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Reno: Two Calls Claimed Responsibility for Plane Explosion

July 18, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Clinton administration said today there have been several calls claiming responsibility for the crash of the TWA jumbo jet off Long Island, N.Y., but officials doubt their credibility.

White House spokesman Mike McCurry said there had been ``a variety of calls″ about the explosion. But, he said, ``I am not aware of any call that constitutes a credible claim of responsibility at this point.″

Attorney General Janet Reno said she was aware of two calls, but both came after the disaster was reported publicly.

``We don’t have any indication at this point″ of sabotage, Reno said. ``The FBI is at the scene.″ The government is ``not prepared to state at this time that it’s a terrorist incident.″

She told her weekly news conference that one of the calls was to a Tampa, Fla., television station and said she did not not know where the second call was received.

Reno would not say how or whether the callers identified themselves.

CBS affiliate WTSP-TV, Channel 10, in Tampa received a telephone call from a man claiming responsibility for the crash at 2:45 a.m. EDT today, vice president of news Mike Cavender said.

In general, the government takes calls that come in claiming responsibility before explosions occur much more seriously than those afterwards because there are frequently calls afterwards from mischief-makers falsely claiming responsibility on behalf of various groups. Nevertheless, all are checked to the extent possible.

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