Police find two car bombs in central London

Sat Jun 30, 2007 12:27AM BST
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By Peter Graff and Mark Trevelyan

LONDON (Reuters) - Police found two car bombs packed with petrol, gas and nails in London's teeming theatre district on Friday, averting attacks that echoed an earlier al Qaeda plot and could have killed or maimed scores of people.

Officers defused the first bomb, found in a green Mercedes parked outside one of London's biggest nightclubs, the cavernous Tiger Tiger, at around 1 a.m., when hundreds were packed inside for "Sugar 'n Spice Ladies Night".

The police, alerted by ambulance workers who thought they saw smoke inside the car, defused the first bomb at the scene, saying it contained gas tanks, fuel canisters and nails.

Similar materials were later found in a blue Mercedes that had been parked illegally nearby and towed away. The two cars were "clearly linked" said Peter Clarke, London's anti-terrorism police chief.

"The discovery of what appears to be a second bomb is obviously troubling and reinforces the need for the public to be alert," he said.

Authorities said they did not know who left the bombs but they had begun a counter-terrorism investigation. The alerts came less than two years after Islamist suicide bombers killed 52 commuters on London transport.

"It is obvious that if the device had detonated there could have been significant injury or loss of life," Clarke said.

He said there were similarities between Friday's incident and an earlier plot, uncovered in 2004, in which an al Qaeda militant planned to detonate gas-fuelled bombs in limousines.  Continued...