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Suspect in deadly Paris bomb blast detained

Image: French policemen after a parcel bomb exploded in Paris.
Police secure the street in front the old Paris law offices of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, where a parcel bomb exploded Wednesday.Benoit Tessier / Reuters
/ Source: The Associated Press

Police detained a suspect in an overnight raid in connection with the deadly explosion of a package bomb at the office of a law firm in Paris, police officials said Friday. Authorities also said the inquiry no longer focused on terrorism, the officials said.

An office secretary opened the wooden box after a messenger delivered it to a law office on Thursday, and two homemade explosives inside went off, killing her and seriously injuring a lawyer.

Judicial police apprehended the suspect at his mother's home, where he was living, the two police officials said on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.

The suspect, said to be a 45-year-old architect, had allegedly harassed a lawyer at the firm two years ago, the officials said.

Prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin has said the package appeared to have been addressed to the law firm, which handles civil and commercial cases.

Terrorism no longer focus
After the arrest Friday, authorities continued to search for a delivery woman who dropped off the package, the officials said. The police officials said the possibility of terrorism was no longer a focus of the investigation.

The building also housed an unrelated law firm co-founded by President Nicolas Sarkozy, as well as a Holocaust research foundation, although officials said they did not appear to be targeted.

“It is a truly atrocious act,” Sarkozy’s spokesman David Martinon said on France-Info radio.

Christian Charriere-Bournazel, president of the Paris bar association, said the explosion “had nothing to do with” the law firm that Sarkozy opened with two other lawyers in 1987, because it is not on the same floor as the one targeted. Sarkozy’s practice bore his name until his election in May, but is now called Arnaud Claude and Associates.

The bombed office was on the same floor as the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah. Created in 2000 with an endowment from recovered funds that were confiscated from French Jews during World War II, it supports research and education about the Holocaust and Jewish culture.

Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld, after visiting the Holocaust foundation, said it had not received any threats. “Apparently the foundation was not the target,” he said.

Muffled blast Damien Laude, a construction worker across the wide Boulevard Malesherbes from the elegant building described hearing a muffled blast. Afterward, he saw a blond woman carried out of the building.

“She was completely covered with blood, she was unconscious,” he said. Afterward, Laude said, a man with a head wound also emerged.

Police and emergency vehicles quickly filled the boulevard, cordoning off several neighboring buildings for several hours.

One window pane was broken, but there was no other apparent external damage to the building, which houses several law firms, dental offices and a neurologist’s practice.