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Last Updated: Monday, 5 January, 2004, 20:11 GMT
Letter bomb explodes at MEP's office
Gary Titley
Gary Titley was not at the office at the time
A secretary was slightly injured when a letter bomb exploded and caught fire at the offices of a senior British MEP.

It was addressed to Gary Titley, leader of the UK Labour members and was opened by a secretary in his office in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, on Monday.

It was the third confirmed device targeting Euro-MPs, and the first known to have been sent to the UK.

Italian anarchists in Bologna are believed to be behind the campaign.

At least two other letter bombs were sent to European Parliament headquarters in Brussels - addressed to German and Spanish political leaders.

All three were very similar, concealed in books in brown envelopes.

Quite why they've targeted non-Italian politicians is not yet clear
Gary Titley, MEP
Mr Titley, who was travelling to Brussels at the time, said: "There can be no justification for these attacks which in reality are an attack on democracy.

"There's suggestions this has come from an Italian anarchist group.

"Quite why they've targeted non-Italian politicians is not yet clear. But I understand leaders of the main political parties have received these devices.

'Got under defences'

"Mine coming through the constituency office meant there wasn't any screening, as there is here in the European Parliament."

He said the device was the last item of mail to be dealt with from the backlog of post which had arrived during the Christmas holidays.

When the package started to give off black smoke, the secretary threw it aside and it burst into flames, he said.

The office manager put out the fire.

Mr Titley said: "Today being the first day back after the holidays, so much mail, everyone feeling very relaxed, obviously this one got under our defences."

Greater Manchester Police said: "Mr Titley's secretary opened the package and it exploded like a party popper, giving her slight injuries to her hand."

Security screening

Monday's letter bombs were all posted on 22 December in Bologna, the departure point for earlier letter bombs to senior EU officials including Romano Prodi.

The group claiming to be behind the attacks calls itself the Informal Anarchist Federation and is protesting about what it calls the "repressive apparatus of control" in Europe.

The latest packages to turn up in Brussels appear to have passed through European Parliament security screening operations before the earlier devices alerted staff to a Bologna-based threat.

Thousands of packages

They were then despatched to the offices of the relevant MEPs where they remained during the fortnight-long Christmas break.

One, which was opened by a staff member, was addressed to the leader of the centre-right European People's Party, Hans-Gert Poettering.

Another unopened, device was sent to the head of the Spanish Conservatives, Jose Ignacio Salafranca.

Previous letter bombs were sent to European Commission President Romano Prodi at his Bologna home, to the head of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Jean-Claude Trichet, and to the offices of Eurpol, an EU police data-gathering centre in the Hague.

European Parliament spokesman David Harley said a security review was under way.

"The Belgian police are now working with our security services to re-scan the tens of thousands of packages which have been sent to the European Parliament in recent weeks," he said.

The BBC's Emma Jane Kirby
"The Christmas post showed-up a shocking surprise"

Post bombs target EU parliament
05 Jan 04  |  Europe
Bologna mail blocked after bombs
31 Dec 03  |  Europe
Letter bombs sent to EU figures
29 Dec 03  |  Europe


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