BOMB blast rocks London postal depot

Sunday, May 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ A bomb exploded at a north London postal depot Sunday for the second time in three weeks, slightly injuring one person. Police blamed renegades who have split from the Irish Republican Army.

The early morning blast blew out windows and blackened walls at the mail sorting center, which was empty at the time. The injured person was a passer-by who was not seriously hurt, police said.

It was the third bombing in six weeks in London. All have been blamed on breakaway members of the Irish Republican Army who oppose Northern Ireland's peace process.

Authorities said the latest explosion might have been linked to Saturday's 20th anniversary of the death of hunger striker Bobby Sands in Northern Ireland's Maze prison.

Sands' sister, Bernadette, is married to Michael McKevitt, who is awaiting trial on terrorism charges in Ireland. Prosecutors say they believe McKevitt is a commander of an IRA splinter group that calls itself the Real IRA.

The Real IRA has said it will keep up a campaign of attacks. It opposes the cease-fire being observed by the IRA. The group was blamed for an April 15 bomb blast at the mail depot that blew out windows but caused no injuries.

Britain's Northern Ireland secretary, John Reid, condemned Sunday's bombing.

``The people that carried this out have no support, no sympathy,'' he said. ``They have no strategy other than to try to wreak murder and mayhem in order to bust apart the peace process.''

Alan Fry, the head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch, said authorities were on high alert against more attacks in the month leading up to Britain's expected general election.

``We have seen sustained activity in election campaigns both in '97 and '92,'' Fry told reporters. ``We ... will be doing everything possible to secure the safety of those taking part in the election, and the general public.''

Sunday's explosion came six weeks after a car bomb, also blamed on the Real IRA, went off outside the British Broadcasting Corp.'s television center in west London. One person was injured and the building's entryway was wrecked.