London: Explosions at MI6 Buildinggreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
LONDON (September 20, 2000 7:48 p.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - Emergency services were called to an explosion Wednesday night near the central London headquarters of MI6, Britain's foreign intelligence agency, police said.
A spokesman for the London ambulance service said no reports casualties were reported, but emergency services had sealed off the area around the site of the explosion.
There was no official confirmation that the explosion was caused by a bomb, but Sky News television reported that army bomb disposal officers were at the scene, checking that there were no unexploded devices.
The television station quoted an unnamed police officer at the scene as saying the blast took place on the MI6 building. He described the damage as "minimal," but said the explosion was "very suspicious."
Emergency services were first called to the scene at 9:52 p.m.
A Sky News reporter who arrived at the site about an hour after the blast said there was no outward indication of any damage to the building, and that no smoke or flames were visible.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office, which supervises MI6, said, "We are aware of the incident, but we don't know any details as yet. The police are investigating, but we are not aware of any casualties at the moment."
He added that Foreign Secretary Robin Cook was being given regular updates about developments at the scene.
Alex Frank, a local resident quoted by Sky News, claimed he had heard two separate explosions. "There were definitely two explosions; they were loud enough to shake the building where I was living," he said.
Another eyewitness who spoke to the TV station said he saw a blast coming from the eighth floor of the building, after which shattered glass fell to the street below. "I was terrified," said Jimmy Pitman.
Wendy Cook, a lawyer who lives near the scene, said there were two large explosions, "exceptionally loud, one running into the other. They rattled my windows. It was obviously a really serious explosion."
She added: "If it is a bomb I am amazed that anyone could have got so close to the security services building."
The British capital has been targeted in the last 12 months by terrorists who are part of a splinter group of the Irish Republican Army, with one bomb causing damage to a bridge over the Thames River.
The blast Wednesday night immediately raised concerns about security at the MI6 headquarters.
Earlier this year, a parliamentary committee criticized the secret services after a series of security lapses. In one, a secret service officer left a laptop computer containing sensitive information in a bar where he went for a drink after work.
Menzies Campbell, foreign affairs spokesman for the opposition Liberal Democrat Party, said after Wednesday's explosion that "this is clearly a serious breach of security ... Very substantial questions must now be raised about the protection of those who work in the security services."
-- Rachel Gibson (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 20, 2000
This doesn't sound like y2k!!
Wednesday September 20 10:29 PM ET Small Missile Fired at London MI6 Spy HQ - Police
LONDON (Reuters) - A ``small missile'' was fired at the outside of the headquarters of the MI6 foreign intelligence service in central London on Wednesday night, police said.
Alan Fry, head of the police's anti-terrorist branch, told reporters at the scene of the explosion early on Thursday that the missile had hit the eighth floor of the high-security building but had caused only minimal damage.
Fry was unable to say who had fired the missile, but added:
``Clearly I have to keep in mind the capability of dissident Irish groups, but at this stage I would not be ruling out any other group who might see the secret intelligence service as a potential target.''
-- Rachel Gibson (email@example.com), September 20, 2000.