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Thursday, 9 May, 2002, 02:42 GMT 03:42 UK
US pipe-bomb suspect in court
Luke Helder
Helder was denied bail
A 21-year-old American student has appeared in court on charges of domestic terrorism for allegedly planting a series of pipe bombs in rural post boxes in several US states, injuring six people.

... He suffers from some apparent mental health problems in regard to some comments about taking his own life

Judge Robert McQuaid
At a brief hearing in Reno, Nevada, a judge ordered Luke Helder to be held without bail.

The FBI said the suspect - described as "armed and dangerous" - confessed to planting 18 explosive devices. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

He was arrested on Tuesday following a high-speed chase on a motorway - the FBI had issued a nationwide alert for his capture.

Bomb notes

Judge Robert McQuaid denied a request for Mr Helder be turned over to the custody of his parents, saying he believed the art student was both a flight risk and a possible danger to society.

Post office
Postal services were already nervous following last year's anthrax attacks
"It is also apparent to me he suffers from some apparent mental health problems in regard to some comments about taking his own life," the judge said.

Mr Helder was arrested after his car was spotted by a motorist in the town of Lovelock, Nevada.

He reportedly threw a gun out of his car window shortly before his capture, and police were called to check for further explosive devices in his car.

Eighteen pipe bombs had been found in mailboxes in Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa, Texas and Illinois since last Friday.

Six people were injured by the devices, although none were seriously hurt.

Federal government officials had described the bombings as "acts of domestic terrorism", and said notes had been found nearby warning of further "attention getters".

Most of the bombs reportedly contained similar anti-government notes signed by "someone who cares" and which complained about limits imposed on personal freedom.

Latest attack

In recent years, the United States has seen several acts of terrorism carried out by its own citizens.

Theodore Kaczynski known as the Unabomber
The Unabomber waged his campaign for 17 years

In 1998, Theodore Kaczynski, known as the Unabomber, was sentenced to four terms of life in prison without parole for a 17-year bombing spree which left three people dead and many injured.

Last June, Gulf War veteran Timothy McVeigh was executed for the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma that killed 168 people and injured hundreds of others.

Following the 11 September attacks on the US, the country was hit by a series of anthrax attacks which the FBI believes was probably the work of a US national.

The BBC's Steve Kingstone
"He faces jail and possible life imprisonment"
See also:

07 May 02 | Americas
More US mailbox bombs discovered
04 May 02 | Americas
America hit by mailbox bombs
11 Jun 01 | Americas
Defiant McVeigh dies in silence
04 May 98 | Unabomber
Unabomber gets life
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