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Sunday, 27 August, 2000, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
Bomb cache 'link' to carnival
Nittng Hill Carnival
People at the famous carnival could have been at risk
Police are investigating the possibility that eight bombs found hidden away in woods may have been part of a plot to blow up the Notting Hill Carnival.

The cache of bombs, described by detectives as highly sophisticated, were found by a man walking his dog at Eynsham Hall, near Witney, Oxfordshire, on Friday afternoon.

A team of six army bomb disposal experts worked for almost 48 hours to make them safe.

"It's very unusual to find devices so sophisticatedly put together

DS John Donlon
Asked about the possibility of a racist threat to the two-day multi-cultural carnival in London, Detective Superintendent John Donlon said: "We're looking at that very closely with the anti-terrorist branch.

"Because of things which have been said during the week to the promoters of the carnival, that is one thing we are looking at among others."

Police said the devices, contained in clear plastic water bottles with three kilograms of brass nuts packed into the bottom, could easily have maimed or killed.

Two million people are expected to descend on west London over the Bank Holiday weekend for the biggest street festival in Europe.

Fingertip searches

Mr Donlon, who is leading the investigation, said detectives were also looking at links with animal rights activists but he stressed this was only one of many avenues of inquiry.

All eight devices have been removed from the site where they were found and are being examined for clues at a forensic laboratory in Kent.

1999 crowds
The carnival is a huge multi-cultural event
Specialist police search teams are conducting fingertip searches to check for any more explosive devices which may have been hidden nearby.

Detectives have also been conducting house to house inquiries in the area and are following up several leads from calls to an incident room set up following the discovery.

Mr Donlon said: "The eight devices were extremely sensitive and very sophisticated, with anti-handling devices which might make them go off if disturbed.

"It's very unusual to find devices so sophisticatedly put together with such finesse and complication."

'Intelligent' construction

He suggested those who made the bombs might have a military or private sector explosives background and would have to be highly intelligent to construct the devices.

They could have also been set to operate by remote control.

Detectives are linking the devices to an identical type found on a stone wall at Syreford, near Cheltenham, last Sunday.

They have said the devices appear too sophisticated to have been constructed from amateur instructions in the manner described in the David Copeland London nail bomb case.

Detectives have appealed to hardware stores and other retailers who sell brass nuts to contact them if they have sold large amounts recently.

They have also appealed to the public if they find anything similar not to touch it and to call 999.

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See also:

27 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Two million expected at carnival
25 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Carnival: The people's party
27 Aug 99 | Entertainment
Carnival time for Notting Hill
31 Aug 99 | Entertainment
Notting Hill - in pictures
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