Bomb Rocks Paris Subway Near Orsay Museum, Injuring 30
PARIS (AP) _ A bomb exploded on a regional subway train near the Orsay Museum during morning rush hour today, gutting the car inside a tunnel and injuring at least 24 people.
Authorities said the blast was the eighth bombing or attempted bombing since July. Police suspect Algerian militants opposed to France’s support of the military-installed government in Algiers of the bombing campaign.
The explosion occurred at about 7:05 a.m. (2:05 a.m.) on the RER line in a tunnel between the St.-Michel and the Musee d’Orsay stations in central Paris, officials said.
``There was nothing but smoke and the smell of gunpowder,″ a passenger told France-Info radio after making his way through the tunnel with other commuters. ``I saw at least three or four people on the tracks who were gravely injured.″
About 30 people were hurt, at least eight of them seriously, a police spokeswoman said.
An Interior Ministry spokeswoman, speaking on customary anonymity, blamed the blast on a bomb.
The subway line, a main artery used by commuters living in the suburbs south and west of the French capital, hugs the Seine River.
Police and firefighters immediately went on high alert and sealed off the area. Prime Minister Alain Juppe, Interior Minister Jean-Louis Debre and Mayor Jean Tiberi rushed to the scene.
Red-and-white police tape ringed the entrance to the Musee d’Orsay station next to the art museum and fire, police and rescue vehicles filled the street under a gray sky. Helicopters airlifted the most seriously hurt.
Europe 1 radio reported authorities were looking for a suspect spotted shortly before the blast. Interior Ministry officials declined to comment.
France has been stung by a wave of terror bombings since midsummer, when a bomb exploded in a packed subway car at the same St.-Michel station on July 25, killing seven people and wounding 84. Today’s bombing raised the injury toll to more than 150 since the first blast.
That attack and others were staged with gas canisters packed with nuts, bolts and nails.
The extremist Armed Islamic Group based in Algeria has claimed responsibility for most of the other bombings, having also staged attacks in Algeria aimed at sabotaging a presidential election Nov. 16.
Algeria’s President Liamine Zeroual, a retired general appointed to the office, is favored to win the vote.
More than 30,000 people have died in a Muslim fundamentalist insurgency in Algeria since the government canceled legislative elections the Islamic Salvation Front was expected to win.