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Packages Thrown From Moving Car, Not Explosives

October 10, 1986

BOURNEMOUTH, England (AP) _ A man in a speeding car today threw packages that turned out to be harmless at a hotel packed with Conservative Party officials and at the building where the party is holding its conference, police said.

The vehicle then crashed through a police barrier outside a second hotel, where Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and other party and government leaders were staying. He was seized by police, who identified him only as a 28-year- old resident of Bournemouth.

Police said they blew up the packages and found each contained a telephone directory, a battery and a clock, but no explosives.

Home Office Minister David Mellor said the 7 a.m. incident appeared to be ″a very stupid stunt.″

Dorset Assistant Chief Constable Tony Pointer said police marksmen at the Highcliff Hotel, where the man crashed the police barrier, made a split-second decision not to shoot him.

Roads in the seaside resort of Bournemouth were sealed off. About 100 guests from the Royal Bath Hotel, where the man threw the first package, and 50 residents from nearby homes were evacuated while police blew up the package.

In 1984, Mrs. Thatcher escaped injury when Irish Republican Army guerrillas blew up her hotel headquarters during the Conservative Party conference in Brighton, 90 miles along the coast from Bournemouth.

Five top party members were killed and 31 wounded. Margaret Tebbit, the wife of party chairman Norman Tebbit, was paralyzed by her injuries.

At this conference, police routinely have refused to confirm where Mrs. Thatcher is staying. But the prime minister’s office said today Mrs. Thatcher spent the night at the Highcliff and was there when the incident occurred.

Today’s final session of the Conservatives’ four-day annual conference began on time at 9:30 a.m. with no mention of the false alarm.

One of the packages was thrown at the Bournemouth International Center, where the conference is being held.

Home Secretary Douglas Hurd praised the elaborate security set up for the conference but played down the incident as he arrived at the center.

″It was not a serious attempt but what he was trying to prove remains to be seen. The prime minister was informed but there was nothing to alarm anyone,″ he said.

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