Sixteen injured in club bombing

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The Independent Online
POLICE IN the east German town of Merseburg were sifting through the smouldering ruins of a bar yesterday in search of clues to the motive for a bomb attack in which 16 people were injured.

A woman and a man had their legs blown off and four other people were seriously hurt after an explosion ripped through the Desperado club early yesterday morning. Police had no doubt that the blast had been deliberate, and suspected that the explosives had been placed in a window-box opposite the club.

Shattered window-boxes were found 40 metres away from the scene, hurled through the windscreens of cars parked near by. Shards of broken glass covered a wide area.

A greater tragedy was narrowly averted. The Desperado is on an industrial estate. A hundred yards away stands a petrol station on one side, and a busy discotheque on the other. At the moment of the explosion, the disco was crammed with some 500 people.

Police did not exclude the possibility that the disco was the real target. Merseburg is in Saxony-Anhalt, a region notorious for neo-Nazi violence. The prime suspects in any arson attack are neo-Nazis. But since all the guests of the Desperado were Germans, a racist motive was initially excluded.

One theory was that the club had been punished because the owner did not pay protection money to one of the criminal gangs operating in the area. The police did not rule out this possibility.

The other possibility was that the bombers were targeting not the Desperado, but the neighbouring discotheque. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, and the bombers' intentions remain unclear.

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