Bomb Explodes in Police Building, Killing Inspector
PARIS (AP) _ A bomb explosion Wednesday wrecked the central Paris offices of a special police squad, killing a police inspector and injuring 27 people, authorities said.
The bomb went off just before 4 p.m., apparently in a fifth-floor toilet. It knocked out huge chunks of three-foot-thick walls on the fifth and sixth floors and collapsed the fifth-floor ceiling.
Earlier this year, The Bandit Repression Brigade moved some of its offices to the building, near such tourist landmarks as City Hall, the Chatelet and the St. Jacques Tower.
″There was a huge noise all of a sudden, I saw smoke, lots of smoke,″ said one employee from the building, who refused to give his name. ″I smelled a scent of powder, then I saw the fourth-floor window fall down in pieces.″
Police reported no immediate claim of responsibility.
Many recent bombings in Paris have been claimed in the name of the extreme left group Direct Action. The group claimed it planted two bombs that exploded Sunday at the offices of French companies doing business in South Africa.
Division Inspector Marcel Basdevant, 54, was killed by falling debris in his fifth-floor office. He was five months from retirement.
Two other police officers were reported in critical condition at hospitals.
Premier Jacques Chirac, who also is mayor of Paris, rushed to the bomb scene and said he was ″shaken and outraged by this attack which has gone beyond the limits.″
He told reporters the attack should weaken opposition to his government’s attempts to tighten security in France.
″It’s an odious provocation,″ Chirac said. ″Once more, the police have paid dearly with their blood so that our fellow citizens can live in a certain security.″
Police blocked the area to the public. Plainclothes officers rushed around gathering up documents scattered by the explosion.
The National Assembly suspended debate on the government’s proposed immigration laws, part of a package designed to crack down on terrorism and crime, so Interior Minister Charles Pasqua could go to the scene.
When the session resumed, the lawmakers observed a moment of silence before continuing debate.
The first secretary of the opposition Socialists, Lionel Jospin, said he wished ″to mark my indignation and my emotion following this odious attack.″
SOS Racism, a group that has led criticism of the police crackdown since Chirac’s conservative coalition was elected in March, issued a statement condemning the attack.
″Those who commit such acts of barbarism are just cowards and enemies of liberty and democracy,″ it said.
The Independent Professional Police Federation, aligned with the extreme right in French politics, said in a statement that ″the true intstigators of the affair are all the journalists, politicians or members of anti-national associations who ... have led campaigns of hate against the representatives of order.″