URGENT Explosion Kills Four, Injures 62 In Paris
PARIS (AP) _ A bomb thrown from a car devastated a clothing and textile store in central Paris today, killing at least four people and wounding 62, officials said. It was the fifth terrorist attack in the capital within 10 days.
Three people were killed and more than 100 injured in the previous bombings, which prompted the government to adopt tough anti-terrorist measures. Two groups seeking to free three imprisoned Middle Easterners have issued conflicting claims of responsibility for the earlier attacks.
Laurent Davenas, an assistant state prosecutor, said the bomb was thrown from a black BMW at the Tati store on rue de Rennes in the Montparnasse quarter at about 5:25 p.m. (11:25 a.m. EDT). Police earlier said the bomb apparently was hidden in a garbage can.
″It is an incredible sight, many women, children, blood everywhere,″ said one witness.
″The explosion was very violent because I was on the sixth floor and everything shook,″ said the witness, who did not give his name. ″Windows all around blew out. Help arrived rapidly and the evacuation of the wounded started right away.
″The most seriously wounded were treated on the sidewalk in front of Tati. I saw people dying.″
Fire department rescue services said at least four people died and 62 were injured, 12 seriously, in the explosion, which wrecked the store’s ground floor.
Two men were in the BMW, Davenas said, and authorities ordered a search for the car. Premier Jacques Chirac immediately called for an emergency meeting of his top security officials.
A woman who was shopping in Tati said the store was ″packed with people ...
″We heard a very powerful detonation. Everybody left screaming. I left my packages and I ran out,″ she said.
Another witness said he saw a woman blown several yards into the air by the explosion.
There was no immediate claim of responsiblity for today’s bombing.
The other bombings since Sept. 8 occurred at city hall, a cafeteria in the La Defense complex west of Paris, the Pub Renault on the Champs-Elysees and police headquarters in central Paris.
Groups calling themselves the Committee for Solidarity with Arab and Middle East Political Prisoners and the Partisans of Rights and Freedom have issued conflicting claims of responsibility for the earlier bombings and threatened new attacks unless Georges Ibrahim Abdallah and two other jailed Middle Easterners are freed.
After several bombings last winter and spring, the Committee for Solidarity declared a truce, saying it would give the French government until the end of summer to free Abdallah, who is serving a four-year sentence for possession of fake passports.
France has offered a 1-million franc reward - $150,000 - for information leading to the arrest of Abdallah’s two brothers, Maurice Ibrahim Abdallah and Robert Ibrahim Abdallah. No charges have been filed against the two Lebanese men, but officials said they were wanted for questioning in the earlier bombings.
At a news conference in Tripoli, Lebanon, convened just before today’s bombing, the two brothers offered to give themselves up to French authorities but denied they were involved in the Paris attacks.
The latest wave of bombings began when a blast at the post office in City Hall killed one employee and injured 18 people Sept. 8. Four days later, a lunchtime bomb in a crowded cafeteria in the La Defense commercial center injured 40 people.
On Sunday, a bomb was found in Pub Renault on Champs Elysees and exploded when a staff member and two policemen took it to the basement. One policeman was killed and the other policeman and cafe worker were injured. The following day, a bomb in the driving licence office of Paris police headquarters killed one person and injured 51.
A planned attack in the express subway train station at Gare de Lyon failed Sept. 4. The detonator exploded but did not ignite bomb.
In response to the bombings, France deployed troops to aid frontier police and imposed visa requirements on all visitors except those from selected European nations.