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1974: Four dead in Guildford bomb blasts

VIDEO : Eye-witnesses accounts at the scene of the blast

At least four people have been killed and more than 50 injured in two explosions in southern England this evening.

Bombs went off in two pubs packed with Saturday night revellers in the town of Guildford. Many of the victims were soldiers back from duty in Northern Ireland.

The first bomb exploded in the Horse and Groom pub just before 2030 BST, destroying the front of the building and shattering the windows of neighbouring shops.


"We must hunt down the maniacs and the animals who would do this kind of thing"

David Howell, former Minister for Northern Ireland

A second bomb exploded half an hour later in the nearby Seven Stars. Most of the casualties were the result of the initial bomb, which went off without warning.

All pubs and two cinemas in the Surrey town have been shut down for fear of further attacks and police have sealed off the area.

David Howell, former Minister for Northern Ireland described his horror at the injuries caused by the bombs.

"I'm afraid I thought I'd seen the last of this in Belfast. It's quite clear that we must hunt down the maniacs and the animals who would do this kind of thing," he said.

The most seriously injured have been transferred to St. Luke's Hospital in Guildford which is receiving blood plasma from London hospitals to treat casualties.

Surrey Ambulance Service is said to be stretched as crews struggle to cope with the large numbers of wounded.

Guildford is situated close to a number of garrison towns. Its night life is popular with soldiers who are part of the 6000 military personnel in the area.

Senior police officers say given the severity of the explosions and choice of targets, the attacks are likely to be the work of Irish terrorists, but no official confirmation has yet been given.

Special Branch are currently interviewing witnesses.

The republican bombing campaign has intensified on mainland Britain in the last two years. In March 1973 a bomb exploded at the Old Bailey killing one man and injuring 230.

This year 12 people died in February when a bomb exploded on a bus carrying servicemen and their families on the M62. In July, a woman was killed and 41 people hurt by a bomb at the Tower of London.

In Context
The final death toll was five: Four soldiers, and a civilian. Sixty-five were injured.

In 1975 three men and a young woman were convicted of the bombings and given life sentences.

An appeal in 1977 was launched but rejected but in 1987 their case was reopened, after new evidence was presented.

On 18 October 1989 the convictions of the so-called "Guildford Four" were declared a gross miscarriage of justice and quashed by the Court of Appeal. They had spent 14 years in jail.

Three police officers were later charged with fabricating evidence in their investigation into the Guildford bombings, but the charges were dismissed.


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