Manchester evacuates after 2 bombs hurt 65

December 04, 1992|By Richard O'Mara | Richard O'Mara,London Bureau

LONDON -- Two bombs exploded in The Midlands' city of Manchester yesterday, wounding 65 people and precipitating the evacuation of thousands from the city's center.

The first bomb went off just before 9 a.m. outside the office of Inland Revenue, the British taxing authority. One witness said it had been concealed in a flower box. No warning had been given.

The blast blew out windows, throwing a blizzard of glass shards through the streets and down upon the thousands of people on their way to work.

The second bomb exploded 85 minutes later several blocks away, near the Anglican Cathedral where many people had been taken to recover from the effects of the first blast. It produced more injuries. It also had been planted in a flower box.

Then the police ordered the evacuation.

"The whole of central Manchester is now deserted," said one policewoman on the scene.

There were no deaths from the bombs. Among the 65 wounded, few were thought to be seriously hurt. Most were suffering from cuts and shock.

A third bomb later was found and let off in a controlled explosion.

Manchester police suspect the bombs were planted by the Irish Republican Army, though the usual announcement of IRA responsibility had not been made by last night.

Cmdr. David Tucker, Scotland Yard's chief anti-terrorist coordinator, arrived in Manchester and said, "There is no doubt in anyone's mind this is the IRA."

He attacked the IRA's "well-recognized tactic" of giving warnings that come too late and are too unclear to be of much use to the police.

"That is by design and not by accident," he said.

The only warning yesterday came by telephone just before the second blast.

If, in fact, the IRA was behind the Manchester bombings it will have been the first completed mission the organization has had following a series of failures, all in London, in its announced Christmas bombing campaign. And it indicates a widening geographic scope for the terror attacks.

In the past 18 days four bomb attacks in the capital were either frustrated by police or otherwise went wrong.

In Northern Ireland yesterday, the authorities were recovering from a security emergency as the police and army had to deal with some 50 suspicious packages left around Belfast. The packages were all hoaxes.

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