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1990: IRA bombs Stock Exchange

VIDEO : Stock Exchange closes after bomb goes off inside building

An IRA bomb has blown a 10-foot hole in the London Stock Exchange. Nobody was injured in the blast, although police say there would have been fatalities if they had not evacuated the area before the explosion at 0849 BST.

It was the first time the IRA had given any warning of an attack in England since the 1983 Harrods bombing.

Police and other organisations received eight warning calls in an 18 minute period - from 0800 BST - from a man with an Irish accent using a new IRA coded message.

Officers evacuated neighbouring buildings and kept them clear until after midday, as they dealt with a series of hoax calls.

They also cordoned off the area round Threadneedle Street and Broad Street for several hours and traffic was severely disrupted.

Disruption to business was minimal because most trading is done by computer and telephone and the central information system was in another building.

"They have failed singularly"

Chairman of the Stock Exchange Andrew Hugh Smith

Chairman of the Stock Exchange Andrew Hugh Smith said: "If the purpose of this callous act was to bring the City to a halt, they have failed singularly; our systems and services have functioned perfectly, and trading has continued as normal."

The traded options floor was the main area affected. Up to 300 people - sporting their colourful corporate blazers - were evacuated onto the street.

Business there remained closed for the rest of the day, although the worst damage was done to the visitors' gallery.

Investigators say the bomb - containing five to 10lbs of high explosives - had been planted in the men's toilets behind the gallery.

Visitors normally have to book in advance and the area had not opened this morning, suggesting the bomb had been left overnight.

Scotland Yard says today's target shows the IRA has switched to "soft" civilian targets - as opposed to "hard" political or military ones - and has asked the public to be extra vigilant.

In Context
This was the culmination of a summer of IRA attacks on British targets.

Several bombs had been defused but soldiers were killed in attacks in Staffordshire and north-west London and more than 20 people were injured in a blast at the Carlton Club, London - popular with Conservative MPs.

Anti-terrorist officers discovered two empty flats in London with traces of Semtex explosive in October 1990.

They believed these may have housed a Home Counties-based IRA unit behind the bombing campaigns in the south east.

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