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1982: IRA bombs cause carnage in London

VIDEO : Disturbing scenes as IRA bombs a London park

Eight soldiers on ceremonial duty have been killed in two IRA bomb blasts in central London.

The first blast, in Hyde Park, killed two soldiers and injured 23 others and the second explosion, in Regents Park, less than two hours later killed six soldiers instantly and injured a further 24 people.

The IRA admitted carrying out the attacks in a statement echoing Margaret Thatcher's declaration of war on Argentina over the disputed Falklands.

It repeated her phrase about the right of self-determination and continued: "The Irish people have sovereign and national rights which no task or occupational force can put down."

In the first incident a nail bomb in a blue Austin car was detonated as members of the Household Cavalry made their way to the changing of the guard from their barracks in Knightsbridge.

Seven horses were killed or so badly maimed they had to be destroyed.

Second attack

Another device exploded underneath the bandstand in Regents Park as the Royal Green Jackets played music from Oliver to 120 spectators.

It was the first of a season of lunchtime concerts for tourists and nearby office workers, four of whom were amongst the injured.

Anti-terrorist experts believe the second bomb had been planted some time ago and was triggered by a timer.

But they think the first explosion was operated by remote control to cause the maximum devastation.

Bystanders and people in neighbouring shops and hotels rushed to help, but the police were keen to clear the area as they searched for further devices.

Most of the injured were treated in Westminster Hospital as striking hospital workers called off their action to deal with the casualties.

Detectives from the anti-terrorism squad were interviewing survivors and witnesses and security has been stepped up across the British capital.

The British and Irish prime ministers have condemned the attacks as "callous and cowardly crimes" and "inhuman acts".

Police say MPs were warned of a renewed IRA bombing campaign two weeks ago after an eight month lull in their activities.

In Context
The final death toll was 11 and a total of 50 people were injured.

In October 1987 physics graduate Gilbert McNamee, 27, was sent to jail for conspiracy to cause explosions between 1982 and 1984.

The judge at the Old Bailey found him guilty of bombing offences that included the Hyde Park bomb and he was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

He was released in 1998 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Later that year Mr McNamee's conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeal, who ruled it had been unsafe.


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