BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Jon Silverman reports
"The type of weapon fired... has the power to fire through a meter of concrete"
 real 56k

Friday, 22 September, 2000, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
MI6 attack weapon identified
rocket launcher and rocket
Alan Fry displays the type of weapon used in the attack
Police investigating an attack on the MI6 spy headquarters in central London have displayed the type of rocket launcher used in the attack.

The device, described as a "dangerous military weapon", was found in a park in Vauxhall Cross.

It is a Russian-built Mark 22 anti-tank weapon, and the police said it was small enough to be hidden in a large holdall. They appealed for information from anyone who may have seen something suspicious.

The home of the Foreign Intelligence Service was rocked by an explosion on Wednesday at 2200 BST when a missile shattered an eighth floor window on the southern side of the building.

Click here to see location of explosion.

No group has said it carried out the attack but police suspect dissident Irish republicans.

If the intention of the attackers was to disrupt SIS's operations, they have failed in their objective

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Alan Fry, head of Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorist Branch, said the device was found in Spring Gardens, Vauxhall.

He added: "It is a relatively portable piece of equipment... It can be carried in a large holdall, it's relatively light, its quick to operate.

"But someone saw somebody in the vicinity of Spring Gardens on Wednesday evening around 9.30pm carrying this, whether it was concealed or not, assembling it, firing it, running away in whatever direction and getting into perhaps a vehicle, perhaps a motorcycle.

Mr Fry continued: "It's designed to go through tanks and therefore it is fairly impressive against metal and it will go through about one metre of concrete."

The launcher is being examined by experts.

Police are continuing extensive searches of the area around the MI6 building.

Real IRA suspected

They have been carrying out a finger-tip search of nearby railway lines running into Waterloo station, prompting speculation the missile could have been fired from the tracks.

The missile struck just yards below sensitive satellite equipment on the MI6 building roof.

Damage to MI6 building
The window was on the eighth floor of the MI6 building
Mr Fry appealed to Londoners to consider whether anyone who had rented accommodation recently - either for themselves or to store property - was acting suspiciously.

This is the first time this type of rocket launcher has been seen and used on the mainland.

But in February this year a similar weapon was found in Dungannon and was believed to have been hidden by the Real IRA.

Mr Fry said: "This is a very easily acquired weapon if you have the mind to acquire it. It has also been made in Bulgaria and something similar has been made in Yugoslavia.

"There are stockpiles of these weapons available for those who have the intent and purpose to use them."

The Real IRA are priority suspects in the investigation into the blast, but Mr Fry has not ruled out the possibility that other terrorist groups could be responsible.

In July, the Real IRA was understood to have been responsible for a bomb in Ealing, west London, and in June Hammersmith Bridge was closed after a device was planted on one of its supports.

Security in the capital has been stepped up following Wednesday's attack.

Anyone with any information about the attack should contact the Anti-Terrorism Branch on 0800 789321.

Click here to return to top.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

19 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Dissident republicans: Threat to peace
21 Sep 00 | UK
MI6 attack 'was inevitable'
21 Sep 00 | UK
MI6 attack Q&A
27 Jul 00 | UK
'Bombings could continue'
06 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Hammersmith bomber 'known'
26 May 00 | UK Politics
Mystery of stolen Whitehall laptops
25 Apr 00 | UK
Spy guide on the net
05 Apr 00 | Europe
Analysis: Spymasters change focus
22 Feb 00 | UK Politics
Spy HQ overspend 'to be published'
25 Feb 99 | UK Politics
New MI6 spymaster named
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories