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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Blast Rocks London as IRA Ends Truce

COMBINED REPORTS


LONDON -- A bomb ripped through an east London office complex Friday evening, just an hour after the Irish Republican Army purportedly called off its 17-month cease-fire.


Scotland Yard said six people were seriously injured in the blast, which struck Canary Wharf, an area of office towers in east London's Docklands. About 100 others were lightly hurt. The wounded included a five-year-old girl with facial injuries, police said. No deaths were reported.


It was not immediately clear whether the blast was the work of the IRA. The explosion came after a statement ending the cease-fire was sent to the Irish Republic's RTE television and radio network.


RTE said the statement purportedly from the IRA was received at its main Dublin studio from a caller familiar to the network and carried a known IRA codeword. The statement's authenticity could not be verified.


"It is with great reluctance that the leadership announces that the complete cessation of military operations will end at 6 p.m.,'' the statement said.


The explosion occurred shortly after 7 p.m. in London's Docklands, shattering windows Police were investigating the statement. There was speculation in official Irish circles that the bombing might be the work of the breakaway Irish National Liberation Army, a radical IRA offshoot which did not take part in the cease-fire.


Sinn Fein shares the IRA's aim of an end to British rule of Northern Ireland but says it is not a mouthpiece for the IRA and abhors all violence related to Ireland.


Twenty fire engines and 80 ambulances raced to Canary Wharf within minutes of the explosion, and police helicopters clattered overhead. Police sealed off the area and ordered those still inside buildings to stay put.


The explosion, heard 6 kilometers away, startled Londoners now used to the end of what had been a string of IRA attacks and bomb alerts in the British capital before the cease-fire.


The blast was in an underground garage of a six-story office block near a station in the Isle of Dogs area of east London, the London fire brigade said. The office block partially collapsed. "We were in a pub and we heard an explosion,'' witness Tim Brown told The Associated Press.


"We went out and saw smoke coming from a place where our mate works,'' added Brown, 17. "We called him on his mobile phone. All he said was, It hurts, it hurts.''


Richard Ganisford, another witness, said police had received a warning about the bomb and had cleared the area.


British Prime Minister John Major said a bomb had caused the explosion and called the attack an "atrocity."


Major said in a statement: "This is an appalling outrage ... We will pursue relentlessly those responsible for this disgraceful attack." Major's statement was the first official confirmation that the blast had been caused by a bomb.


Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, said Friday he was saddened by the explosion in London and blamed the British government for failing to enter into all-party negotiations.


Adams, in a statement read out on British Broadcasting Corporation television, appealed for calm and said the search for peace in Northern Ireland must be redoubled.


The purported IRA statement given to RTE before the blast blamed Major's government for the breakdown of peace.


The process has stalled over demands by Britain and the Protestant parties in Northern Ireland that the IRA, based in the Catholic community, start handing over its wepaons before all-party negotiations can start.


"Instead of embracing the peace process, the British government acted in bad faith with Mr. Major and the Unionist [Protestant] leaders squandering this opportunity to resolve the conflict,'' the statement said.


The main Canary Wharf complex, a major media and financial center, has its own security force and bars public vehicles from its main roads.The reported end to the cease-fire follows months of deadlock in an Anglo-Irish drive to find a lasting solution to 25 years of sectarian violence. ()