Security Tightened After Bomb Kills 5 On Paris Subway Train
PARIS (AP) _ Police increased patrols of Paris subways today, the day after a bomb killed five people and injured more than 80 on a rush-hour train. The interior minister told citizens to be on the lookout for suspicious people and packages.
Despite the increased police presence, a man committed suicide today at the exact spot of the bombing by jumping in front of a train at the St. Michel station in the Latin Quarter.
The man was not immediately identified.
There was no claim of responsibility for the attack, but speculation most often fell on two possibilities: a militant Islamic group fighting the government in Algeria, which has the tacit backing of France, its former colonial ruler; or on Bosnian Serbs in retaliation for a reported French attack Sunday on their positions in the rebel stronghold of Pale.
About 1,800 extra police were sent to train stations, airports and large shopping centers around the country amid fears that a string of terrorist attacks might occur as they did in 1986, the year of the last fatal bombings in Paris.
Police were searching coin-operated lockers at Paris train stations, Interior Minister Jean-Louis Debre said.
``You must help us,″ Debre said in an interview on the radio network France-Inter. ``You must be vigilant about packages you notice, about people who act suspiciously.″
He said he hoped ``all citizens will rally to fight terrorism.″
Two French-based Muslim groups condemned the attack. The Union of Islamic Organizations in France and the National Coordination of Muslims of France called the bombing ``a barbarous act aiming to disrupt the peace and security of our society.″
The bomb exploded at 5:30 p.m. as the train pulled into the Saint-Michel station along the Seine River near Notre Dame cathedral. The explosion set off a smoky fire inside the train, shattered glass and tangled metal.
The train was part of the RER system that serves Paris’ suburbs and is separate from the Paris Metro underground system.
One of Paris’ busiest tourist areas, St. Michel quickly became an open-air hospital. More than 500 police, medics and firefighters were at the scene.
A cafe was turned into a rescue base, where some victims with minor injuries were treated. They straggled out of the subway station, some with tears streaming down their smoke-blackened faces, their clothes tattered and bloodstained.
Many were carried out on stretchers, motionless and covered in blood.
Four people died on Tuesday and a fifth person died today of injuries suffered in the attack. Two of the dead, both residents of the Paris region, were identified early today as Isabelle Costa, a Portuguese national, and Veronique Brocheriou.
Thirty-four of the people injured in the bombing were hospitalized overnight and three remained in critical condition today, authorities said.
It was the first fatal bombing in Paris in nearly a decade. A series of bomb blasts around Paris in 1986 left 13 people dead and more than 100 injured.
An Iranian-backed Lebanese group claimed responsibility for the attacks, which targeted department stores, the City Hall and other sites.