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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 March, 2004, 23:53 GMT
France urges calm over rail bomb
Map of France showing Troyes
The device was found on track near Troyes
The prime minister of France, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, has appealed for calm after a bomb was found on a main railway line.

The state-run rail company SNCF said the device was found during an inspection of the line between Paris and the Swiss city of Basel.

A bomb disposal squad made the device safe, the government announced.

SNCF has increased security since a group calling itself AZF sent blackmail demands, threatening attacks.

The group sent notes to the French president and the Interior Ministry demanding $4m and 1m euros (2.5m in total).

That prompted a search of France's entire rail network two weeks ago, which failed to find any traces of an explosive device.

SNCF on Wednesday ordered another search of the country's 32,000km (19,800 miles) network, but did not when it might take place.

Buried under track

The bomb was discovered shortly after noon (1100GMT), half-buried under a track near Troyes, about 150km (90 miles) southeast of Paris.

A container with nitrate fuel was found inside a plastic box about 20cm (8 inches) square, with six detonators wired to a battery.

The Interior Ministry said it was not clear whether the device was capable of exploding.

The device did not resemble bombs described in AZF's previous threats, it added.

There have been no claims of responsibility.

It is the second bomb found on the rail network in two months.

An explosive device was discovered near Limoges on 21 February.

It was described as "very dangerous" by Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Allan Little
"It's not clear whether this bomb was capable of detonating, or how much damage it could have done"



SEE ALSO:
'Hoax alert' hits French trains
18 Mar 04  |  Europe
French rail group 'still threat'
08 Mar 04  |  Europe
French railway scare draws blank
04 Mar 04  |  Europe
Country profile: France
08 Feb 04  |  Country profiles


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