news services
updated 12/30/2003 9:46:09 AM ET 2003-12-30T14:46:09

Authorities intercepted a package bomb sent to a European law enforcement agency Tuesday, the latest in a spate of explosives sent by mail to pan-European organizations.

The package was the second letter bomb discovered in The Hague, Netherlands, in two days. Authorities in Germany confirmed Tuesday that a suspicious letter sent to the head of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt also contained explosives.

The discoveries came after a package bomb went off in the Bologna, Italy home of EU Commission President Romano Prodi on Sunday. The package burst into flames, but Prodi was unhurt. Italian police are investigating an anarchist group that threatened Prodi earlier and denounced what it called the repressive “new European order.”

Security increased at EU HQ
At EU headquarters in Brussels, officials said Tuesday they were increasing security after the mailings.

“We have already reviewed our own situation in Commission buildings, we have strengthened some measures,” said spokesman Stefaan De Rynck. “We are confident that current security arrangements are adequate,” he added.

The latest bomb was found in a package sent to the offices of Eurojust, an arm of the European Union that helps coordinate investigation among European police forces and is made up prosecutors and judges. A bomb squad was disarming the package, the prosecutor’s office in The Hague said.

On Monday, the director of European police intelligence agency Europol in The Hague received a package bomb that was disarmed without injuries.

Suspicion points to Bologna group
The packages sent to Europol and to Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet were both postmarked from Bologna. Spokeswoman Astrid Rijsdorp said Monday it was “likely” the packages targeting Prodi and Europol were connected.

The anarchists are believed to fall under an umbrella group called “Euroopposizione,” founded earlier this year. Its manifesto says it is against “Europe’s masters, their war, their peace, their repression, their control,” la Repubblica, the Italian newspaper reported.

Professor Paul Wilkinson, Chairman of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews, said letter bombs were favoured by small-scale groups or individuals with no sophisticated networks.

Despite the Bologna link, he said Italian terror was usually based on ideology.

“It may not be political at all, it may be an individual with some grievance, a group with some grievance, or a criminal gang trying to get their own back on people they blame for some restriction on their activities,” he said.

The Europol bomb, the size of a book, was addressed to the agency’s director, Jurgen Storbeck, and defused by Dutch military experts. No one was injured, Rijsdorp said.

Europol is a law enforcement agency that coordinates European police forces with each other and with other intelligence agencies outside Europe, such as the CIA.

The European Central Bank, headed by Trichet since October, oversees the 12-country joint European currency, the euro, that went into circulation in 1998.

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