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The BBC's Stephen Cape
"They have a very good idea who was behind the attack"
 real 56k

David Capitanchik, terrorism expert, Aberdeen Univ.
talks to News Online about the dissident republican movement
 real 28k

Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorist branch Alan Fry
"Coded warnings of this kind put the public at great risk"
 real 56k

Sunday, 4 March, 2001, 07:12 GMT
Bomb blast outside BBC

Blast outside BBC TV Centre was heard miles away
Police say a bomb which exploded outside the BBC's main news centre in London was the work of an Irish dissident group.

Alan Fry, head of Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorist Branch, said the blast went off as bomb squad officers were trying to carry out a controlled explosion of the suspicious vehicle at 0030GMT on Sunday.

It was "clearly a big device", which contained high explosives.

He said police had received a coded warning shortly beforehand, prompting them and the BBC to evacuate the premises. One London Underground worker suffered deep cuts to his eye from flying glass.

I can only fear that we will see more attacks

Scotland Yard
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Fry said he believed dissident Irish Republican group, the Real IRA, were responsible for the attack.

The warning was received by a London hospital and an unnamed charitable trust at around 2320GMT on Saturday.

Alan Fry, head of Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorist Branch
Anti-terrorist chief Alan Fry believes the Real IRA carried out the attack

It was the same codeword used when a device was planted on the railway line at Acton, west London, last year.

He said: "Bomb disposal officers from the Metropolitan Police attended the scene within 20 minutes of the original call.

"They started to attempt to do a controlled explosion but while they were carrying out those procedures the bomb exploded.

The incident was at White City, west London

"It has caused minimal damage to the BBC premises but it has wrecked the taxi and there is debris over a very wide area."

Mr Fry continued: "I believe that those responsible for this explosion are indeed a dissident Irish republican group and that is where we are commencing this investigation."

Terror campaign

He said the explosion was an escalation of the Real IRA's terror campaign on mainland Britain.

It is believed to be the first such attack on the BBC.

Bomb attacks in west London
21 February Territorial Army barracks, Shepherd's Bush. A 14-year-old cadet is blinded when a bomb explodes
20 Sept 2000 Dissident Irish republicans were the main suspects in the "rocket" attack on the MI6 spy headquarters in central London.
19 July 2000
The Real IRA was understood to have been responsible for a bomb near Ealing Broadway tube station
1 June 2000
A device found on Hammersmith Bridge. No one claimed responsibility

Mr Fry said: "We have been predicting, since Christmas, that the mainland, and London in particular, were to be subject to terrorist attacks. This was one of those attacks. I can only fear that we will see more."

Anti-terrorist branch officers are carrying out forensic tests in the Wood Lane area of Shepherd's Bush and the road is expected to remain sealed off to traffic on Sunday.

The BBC's Laurie Margolis was on the roof of Television Centre and saw the explosion go off.

He said: "There was an explosion and a huge bang."

The mangled wreckage of the taxi
BBC cameraman Jon Brotherton said this was the first time he had seen a bomb detonate.

"There was a huge orange fireball and a pall of smoke which, even in the night sky, was visible."

His colleague Andrew Clark was inside the BBC building when the blast happened: "The room shook. There was a loud banging. There was some panic."

There was a huge orange fireball and a pall of smoke which, even in the night sky, was visible

Cameraman Jon Brotherton

A BBC spokesman said: "We evacuated the main building and put our emergency plans into action. Broadcasting on channels has remained throughout the incident."

Glass shattered

The bomb exploded just yards from the main front door of BBC Television Centre, leaving sections of the building's metal facade hanging down.

Numerous windows were smashed in the front entrance and both the BBC sign and part of the Television Centre sign were missing.

One nearby resident reported hearing several loud bangs, one of which blew a glass lampshade off his living room wall.

Robert Fulton said: "The sky was lit up like fireworks and there were several loud bangs."

Scene of the bomb at BBC's TV Centre in west London
Wood Lane was cordoned off

He added that he had felt the force of the blast at his home in Uxbridge Road, which is about a quarter of a mile from the scene of the explosion.

Underground services have been severely disrupted.

The Central and Metropolitan and City Underground lines were likely to be closed in the area, a police spokesman added.

TA explosion

This incident is not believed by police to be linked to an explosion two weeks ago at a nearby Territorial Army barracks which blinded a 14-year-old cadet, on 21 February.

Stephen Menary's left hand was blown off by a bomb packed inside a torch at a Territorial Army base in South Africa Road, Shepherd's Bush, west London.

Anti-terrorist branch officers have already said that they have "an open mind" about who planted that bomb.

Police have appealed for anyone with information to call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789321.

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See also:

04 Mar 01 | UK
In pictures: BBC bomb blast
19 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Bomb found on tube line
21 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Missile caused MI6 blast
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