THE SECOND bomb attack in London within 13 hours hit the offices of the Joint Israel Appeal at about 1am yesterday.
Five people, including two girls in a passing car, were injured when the car bomb exploded. The JIA's Balfour House office is one of the largest charity organisations raising funds for the Jewish community. Other Jewish groups also operate from the Finchley offices.
As with the earlier Kensington embassy bomb, windows exploded and showered glass over a half- mile radius. Parked cars had their windscreens destroyed, while residents described their houses as having been violently shaken.
Although it was late and the streets were relatively quiet, the second bomb produced a repeat of many of the scenes which had been witnessed in the busier district around the Israeli embassy 13 hours previously. After the embassy bomb, Scotland Yard confirmed that added security measures would be imposed on potential Jewish targets.
However, the Finchley offices, after close of business, were only routinely patrolled by local officers. Cars were still allowed to park outside despite calls from leading Jewish groups that parking restrictions should be immediately imposed. The bomb exploded when police officers were patrolling away from Balfour House. A witness, Paul Clifford, 18, said he was standing at a bus stop 25 yards from the explosion. 'There was a huge bang which seemed to deafen you for a few seconds. It echoed down the street and a car went up in a huge explosion.'
Mr Clifford said he was shaken off his feet with shattered glass spread over 100 metres lying in the street. He described two girls standing at a bus stop. One second they were waiting for a late bus, he said, 'the next, they were just screaming'.
One of the girls, Alison Gale, 17, said: 'We just ran screaming. There was a car blown to bits.'
Themis Michaelidou, 47, a photographer, said she heard the blast at her home several miles away in Montpelier Grove, Kentish Town, north London.
All that was left of the car was a burnt-out chassis. Police forensic teams were still examing the vehicle yesterday.
The front windows of the three- storey offices were blown out. The building had been strengthened with double doors and had a security guard behind bulletproof glass.
Alan Fox, executive chairman of the JIA, said yesterday: 'We have always felt, being a major Jewish organisation, that we could well be a potential target.
'After yesterday's events we felt we could be next.'
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