A letter bomb exploded today at approximately 9:40am in the hands of an employee working in the London office of The Capita Group, a company which handles outsourced work for government departments and local councils in England. The office is located in Victoria Street, within a mile of the Houses of Parliament.
The employee, a woman in her 30s, was rushed to a local hospital where she was treated for injuries to her stomach and hands. Chief Superintendent Ian Thomas of the Metropolitan Police stated that the woman’s injuries were “fairly minor,” but confirmed that the explosion was a “very traumatic incident for her.”
As soon as the explosion occurred, all six floors of the office building were evacuated, and a police cordon was established surrounding the area while bomb disposal experts went to work. Bomb-sniffing dogs were used to check the area for any further explosive devices.
Capita is under contract to perform a variety of tasks for the British government. The company collects television licensing fees, administers a daily toll designed to cut down on traffic in central London. Capita is also well known for developing the database for the country’s Criminal Records Bureau, a project which combines data from 43 police departments across Britain. Capita was formed in 1984 and currently employs over 26,000 workers.
Royal Mail offices have a variety of controls in place meant to prevent letter bombs and other explosive devices from making their way through the postal system. They’ve reduced the size of the slits on letter boxes so that only very thin envelopes can be dropped in, and have been consistently using X-ray scanners for over twenty years to detect suspicious objects in larger packages.
Chief Superintendent Thomas said that the police forces’ Counter Terrorism Command Unit was currently investigating the explosion.
The bomb was delivered to the Capita office in a padded envelope; police have not yet disclosed the identity of the intended target, or any theories or information about the purpose of or motive behind the attack. A police spokesperson did tell reporters that the woman who was injured in the explosion was not the addressee. According to a Capita employee who requested to remain anonymous, the victim worked in the sixth floor mailroom, where she was routinely responsible for opening a large quantity of mail sent to various staff members in the company.