Explosion near U.S. base in Japan; no reports of injuries or damage

Monday, February 12th 2007, 10:52 am
By: News On 6

TOKYO (AP) _ Japanese police were investigating a suspected extremist attack on the U.S. Army after two small explosions occurred outside a military base south of Tokyo, police said Tuesday.

There were no reports of injury or damage at Camp Zama or from nearby residents, Kanagawa prefectural police spokesman Hiroyoshi Ichikawa said.

Investigators found a pair of metal tubes planted in the ground at a nearby park. They were believed to be used as rocket launchers and pointed toward the base, Ichikawa said.

He said investigators suspect an attack by leftist extremists, but cannot rule out a possibility of a terrorist attack.

The Army was investigating the blast, said an official at Camp Zama who spoke on condition of anonymity, adding that there were no reports of injuries or damage.

``A small explosion was heard in the vicinity of the base,'' said Maj. David Smith, a Pentagon spokesman. ``It did not occur on the base.''

The Army could not immediately confirm what had caused the blasts.

In 2002, two blasts were heard outside Camp Zama, and Japanese police found a metal projectile and a crude mortar made from a metal pipe nearby. Investigators blamed radical guerrillas for the explosions, which caused no injuries.

Leftist extremists in Japan have used projectile launchers against targets related to the U.S. military or on sites connected to the royal family. The attacks are usually more symbolic than dangerous, and injuries or significant damage are rare.

The United States has some 50,000 troops based in Japan under a security treaty. Residents complain of crime, pollution and noise connected to the bases, but large-scale protests of the military presence are largely confined to the southern island of Okinawa.