LONDON-A city long plagued by terrorist attacks faced another challenge on the morning of Monday, February 5, as a letter bomb exploded at a Victoria Street office.
The six-floor building at 71 Victoria Street was evacuated after the package, a small bag, was opened in a mailroom, setting off the fire alarm and injuring the opener, a female employee who was led out of the building with bandages on her arms and chest. “Her injuries are fairly minor,” explained Police Superintendent Ian Thomas.
The office in question housed the British business process outsourcing firm Capita, which provides services not only for private operations but the government. Among their work for the British government is the handling of central London’s congestion charge on automobile use, the collection of moneys earned from television ownership licenses and the Criminal Records Bureau.
The reasoning behind the attack and the identity of the attackers is not known; following a sweep by the police and a team of sniffer dogs and bomb disposal experts, Scotland Yard’s Metropolitan Police Service Counter Terrorism Command is investigating the situation. In the meantime, with no further threat deemed likely, employees at Capita have been allowed back into the building to resume their ordinary business. With London’s unpleasant history of terrorist activity and the uncomfortable proximity of the building to Scotland Yard-and less than a mile from the Houses of Parliament-one can imagine the investigation is being handled quite seriously. Still, “we are not prepared to discuss who may be responsible at this stage,” was the official word from the Yard.
Another statement explained that the terrorism investigation was simply the accepted procedure for any explosion of this nature.
London’s last major news story in the field of terrorism came in July of 2005, when Islamist terrorists carried out a series of bombings on the 7th and attempted a second attack on the 21st. The earlier incident, three bombs on London Underground trains and a fourth on one of the iconic double-decker buses, killed fifty-two commuters as well as the suicide bombers. While the Capita incident is clearly not in the same league, it is an ample reminder of the importance of vigilance.
In the meantime, traffic in the area remains quite chaotic; England’s FTSE 100 stock index took a brief 13-point dip but has since begun to recover. The task is now to determine who was the target of the envelope, and why.