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1996: Huge explosion rocks central Manchester
A massive bomb has devastated a busy shopping area in central Manchester.

Two hundred people were injured in the attack, mostly by flying glass, and seven are said to be in a serious condition. Police believe the IRA planted the device.

The bomb exploded at about 1120 BST on Corporation Street outside the Arndale shopping centre.

It is the seventh attack by the Irish Republican group since it broke its ceasefire in February and is the second largest on the British mainland.

A local television station received a telephone warning at 1000 BST - just as the city centre was filling up with Saturday shoppers.

The caller used a recognised IRA codeword.

One hour and 20 minutes after the warning, police were still clearing hundreds of people from a huge area of central Manchester.

Army bomb disposal experts were using a remote-controlled device to examine a suspect van parked outside Marks & Spencer when it blew up in an uncontrolled explosion.

Glass wounds

Many of those injured were outside the police cordon.

Seventy bystanders were ferried to three hospitals in ambulances. Others walked or were taken by friends.

A consultant at Hope Hospital said most of the seriously injured - including a pregnant woman thrown 15 ft (4.6 m) into the air - had suffered deep glass wounds which would require surgery.

Prime Minister John Major insisted the multi-party Northern Ireland peace talks begun last week would continue, but called on Sinn Fein - the political wing of the IRA - to condemn the attack and demand a ceasefire.

"This act by a handful of fanatics will be regarded with contempt and disgust around the world," he said.

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Victims immediately after the bombing (PA)
Many of the wounded were behind the police cordon

The aftermath of the Manchester blast

In Context
In the early aftermath of the explosion a 1m reward was offered for information leading to the perpetrators but now Greater Manchester Police say it is unlikely anyone will be brought to justice for the attack.

In 2006 police released a video clip, taken from a police helicopter hovering above the crime scene, showing the full impact of the explosion.

The immense damage done to buildings in the city centre led to a total regeneration - it could be argued that without the bomb, Manchester may not have had such a dramatic opportunity for rebirth, funded by private investors and the government.

The IRA's 1996 post-ceasefire campaign focused entirely on UK mainland attacks.

The group broke its truce on 9 February 1996 with a huge bomb in London's Docklands which killed two people.

Within 10 weeks, the Irish Republicans had planted five other devices - all of them in London.

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