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Man Charged in London Bombings

May 2, 1999

LONDON (AP) _ Police charged a white man with murder today in a nail-bombing campaign against gays and ethnic minorities that killed three people and wounded at least 116. He operated alone and was not linked to neo-Nazi groups that claimed responsibility, authorities said.

David Copeland, a 22-year-old engineer, was captured on closed-circuit TV in the neighborhood where the first blast occurred, police said. He was arrested early Saturday at his home in Cove, southwest of London, where police seized explosive material.

Copeland has been charged with the deaths of three people in the worst explosion _ a nail-bombing Friday at a gay pub in central London _ and with similar attacks April 17 and April 24 in London districts with large ethnic minorities.

He will appear in court to be arraigned Monday, Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Alan Fry said.

The announcement that one man was responsible for the campaign meant claims of responsibility by the shadowy neo-Nazi groups Combat 18 and the White Wolves were apparently hoaxes to gain publicity and instill fear across the country.

Fifteen of the more than 70 people injured in Friday’s explosion remained hospitalized, including eight in critical condition. Some victims had limbs amputated and others suffered severe burns.

The first bomb exploded more than two weeks ago, wounding 39 people at a teeming street market in Brixton, a south London district with a large Afro-Caribbean population. A week later a second explosion went off in Brick Lane, wounding seven in the east London district, which is home to many Bangladeshis.

In Friday’s pub bombing, witnesses reported seeing a man with a blond goatee leaving a bag in the Admiral Duncan pub moments before the explosion. Police said the bomb was a ``relatively rudimentary and crude″ device about the size of a shoebox, packed with nails and other metallic objects.

Two of those killed in the pub in London’s Soho district were identified Sunday as a 27-year-old pregnant woman, Andrea Dykes, and the best man at her 1997 wedding, John Light, 32. Her husband Julian Dykes, 26, was badly injured.

Relatives, quoted by Sunday newspapers, said the group from Colchester, 55 miles northeast of London, had gone to the capital to see the musical ``Mamma Mia″ and dropped by the Admiral Duncan.

More than 2,000 people gathered Sunday afternoon in Soho to commemorate the victims of the pub bombing.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, addressing Sikh religious leaders in the central England city of Birmingham, said the Sikh message of tolerance ``could not be more relevant.″

``The only good that can come out of these nail bombs is that they spur all of us, whatever race, age, creed or sexuality, to work harder to build the one nation Britain that the decent majority want, and to bring our community closer together,″ he said.

Queen Elizabeth II sent her ``heartfelt sympathy″ Saturday to the families of the dead and wounded.

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