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The BBC's Stephen Cape
"The alert spread to other parts of the capital"
 real 28k

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson
"I utterly condemn this threat and the disruption caused"
 real 28k

Met Police spokesman
"Huge disruption to central London"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 19 July, 2000, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Bomb scares hit capital
Victoria station
Commuters are facing a day of disruption
Bomb disposal experts have carried out two controlled explosions on a bomb and a suspect package in central London.

Police destroyed a bomb, left near railway tracks near Ealing Broadway tube station, at 1030 BST.

A suspect package discovered near the scene of a birthday pageant for the Queen Mother in Whitehall was destroyed at 1330 BST.

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The alerts caused severe travel disruption to rail and central Underground services as both Victoria and Paddington stations were closed for several hours.

All London stations were reopened by 1700BST but Railtrack warned delays would continue as operators get services back into line.

I utterly condemn this threat and the disruption caused

Peter Mandelson
Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson said in the Commons the Ealing bomb could be the work of dissident groups in Northern Ireland opposed to the Good Friday Agreement.

"The code word used in connection with this incident was the same as that used in the attack on the railway line at Newry and other incidents and hoaxes on the mainland and the device is possibly of a similar size to that of the Newry bomb," he said.

"It certainly appears that this attack was carried out by dissidents but we shall be pursuing this matter and pinning down who is responsible for it.

"I utterly condemn this threat and the disruption caused by the incidents we have seen today."

Westminster Bridge was closed by police
Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Alan Fry, head of the Anti-Terrorist Squad, said he was "not ruling out" the possibility the bomb was linked to the recent bombing of Hammersmith Bridge.

The package destroyed at Whitehall was later discovered to be someone's bag.

Scotland Yard said it was destroyed as a security precaution following the series of alerts.

Mr Fry said a number of bomb warnings for London rail stations had been received at 0600 BST.

He said directions to the Ealing bomb were quite specific, but it took some time to find as it was hidden by railway sidings under piles of rubbish.

No damage was caused to the rail track in the explosion. The armed forces and British Transport Police are now involved in the security operation.

Security measures had been put in place around the capital, Mr Fry added, assuring there was no cause for concern over the Queen Mother's pageant, due to take place in central London at 1700 BST.

Police are now appealing for witnesses, as they launch an investigation into who planted the bomb.

Commuter trains and services to and from the west of England and South Wales have been affected by the alerts. A spokesman for British Transport Police urged commuters to be patient.

Severe disruption

London-bound Great Western passengers had to take South West Trains services from Reading into London's Waterloo station. Heathrow Express services were suspended.

London Underground described disruption to morning rush hour services as "severe".

Passengers trying to get to Heathrow were further hit by suspension of the Piccadilly Tube line between Acton Town and Rayners Lane, west London.

District line services between Acton Town and Ealing Broadway and services on the Central line between North Acton and Ealing Broadway were also suspended.

Travellers are warned to check with train operators or London Underground before starting their journey.

And the start of the final day of evidence in the Paddington rail crash inquiry was delayed because a witness and other interested parties were caught up in the disruption.

Anyone with any information should call a special police information line on 0800 789321.

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See also:

19 Jul 00 | UK
Eyewitness: Commuter chaos
02 Jun 00 | UK
Police hunt bridge bombers
11 Apr 00 | London Mayor
Light at the end of the tunnel?
19 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Dissident republicans: Threat to peace
30 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Dissidents linked to railway blast
19 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Ahern: Dissidents 'still pose threat'
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