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Bomb Shatters Train Track, Police Suspect IRA

February 25, 1991

LONDON (AP) _ Police suspect the IRA of planting a bomb Monday that shattered a high- speed train track and disrupted morning rail traffic north of London. Bomb scares temporarily closed the capital’s rail stations.

No one was injured in the 6:25 a.m. explosion near St. Albans, but the blast threw a piece of rail through the roof of a garage 100 yards away, Hertfordshire police inspector Ian Noble said.

There was no warning, Noble said. Nor was there an immediate claim of responsibility.

Noble said the device bore ″all the hallmarks″ of the Irish Republican Army, which killed one man and injured 40 people a week earlier with a bomb planted in London’s Victoria rail station.

All of British Rail’s 12 stations in London were closed most of Monday morning because of an apparently unrelated telephone bomb warning, disrupting rail service that carries half a million people into the capital every day.

Police said the high-explosive device was placed on the northbound express track, one of four tracks on the heavily traveled line between London’s St. Pancras station and Leicester in central England.

The explosion came just before morning peak service, when 16 trains an hour would be using the line, British Rail said.

The explosion knocked down a 25,000-volt overhead line, and the two express lines were closed immediately, said Graham Bashford, a spokesman for British Rail Network North.

However, commuter trains continued to run on two other tracks for 80 minutes afterward, and passengers getting on trains at St. Albans during that time were given no information about the explosion.

″We weren’t aware that it was a terrorist device to start with. A number of things happen on rails that can make a large noise,″ Bashford told The Associated Press.

All train service through the area was stopped only after police arrived at 7:45 a.m. and found a damaged section of track.

Noble said members of the public reported the blast near St. Albans, a city of 50,000 people 19 miles northwest of London.

Mike Easterbrook, a retired telephone executive who lives near the rail line, called police after he was awakened by a ″tremendous bang.″

″About a quarter of an hour later my wife Mary was looking out of an upstairs window when she noticed a hole in our garage roof,″ Easterbrook said.

Three of the four tracks through St. Albans were open by Monday evening.

Thousands of commuters have faced a week of delays and disruptions caused by train and subway station evacuations.

Since the Victoria station blast, police have reported an increase in the number of bomb hoaxes received and suspicious packages reported.

The IRA is fighting to end British rule in the province of Northern Ireland.

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