Victoria & Paddington Station bombing

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Victoria and Paddington Station bombings
Part of The Troubles
Location London Victoria station, Paddington station London, England
Date 18 February 1991
Paddington station 4:20am
Victoria Station 7:40am GMT (GMT)
Target London underground
Attack type
Time bomb
Deaths 1
Non-fatal injuries
38
Perpetrator Provisional IRA

On the 18 February 1991 the Provisional IRA (PIRA) exploded two bombs at London mainline stations, one at Victoria station and the other at Paddington station killing one person and injuring 38 other people all in the Victoria station bombing.[1] It was the IRA's second major attack in London in February 1991 after the Downing Street mortar attack eleven days earlier which was an attempt to wipe out the British War cabinet and the British Prime Minister John Major.[2]

Background

The IRA had stepped up their campaign against British military, economic and transport targets outside of Northern Ireland in the late 1980s. In May 1988 they killed three members of the RAF in attacks in the Netherlands.[3] On the 13 July 1988, nine British soldiers were injured when the IRA detonated two bombs at a British military barracks in Duisburg, Germany. On 1 August 1988 the first Provisional IRA bomb on the UK mainland in four years was set off by a timer device at the British Army base at the Inglis Barracks in Mill Hill, North London. The two storey building containing the single men's quarters was completely destroyed. One soldier, Lance Corporal Michael Robbins, was killed, and nine others were injured.[4] In September 1989 eleven Royal Marines were killed and 22 others injured when the IRA bombed their barracks in Deal, Kent, England.[5] On 18 November 1989 two British soldiers were wounded when an IRA car bomb exploded at a British Army barracks in Colchester, England. On 20 February 1990 the IRA bombed a British military recruitment office in Leicester, England, where two people were injured in the attack. Five days later on 25 February 1990, another recruitment office was bombed, this time in Halifax, West Yorkshire. Less than three weeks before the Lichfield attack 16 May 1990 the IRA detonated another bomb under a military minibus in London, killing Sergeant Charles Chapman, and injuring four other soldiers. After this attack the IRA released a statement which read While the British government persists in its continued occupation of the north of Ireland the IRA will persist in attacking the British government and its forces in England, [6] On 30 July 1990 The IRA detonated a large bomb at the London Stock Exchange causing massive damage but no injuries.[7] Ten days later they killed Tory MP Ian Gow [8]

The Bombings

The Paddington bomb went off at 4:20am, it was much smaller than the second bomb at Victoria and was designed to make sure the security services would take the Victoria bomb seriously and not as a hoax. There were no deaths or injuries at Paddington but the roof was badly damaged.

The Victoria bomb (which was hidden inside a trash can inside the station) went off three hours later at 7:40am, despite a 50 minute warning & the Paddington bomb the security services were slow to act. The bomb killed one person instantly and injured 38 others from flying glass and other debris.[9]

This was the worst attack suffered by civilians in England by the IRA since the 1983 Harrods bombing which killed three policemen, three civilians and injured 50 people.[10]

All London's rail terminals were closed, disrupting the journeys of almost half a million commuters and bringing chaos to London, which was the IRA's intended goal. There was also a hoax call made to Heathrow.

A statement from the Provisional IRA GHQ said: 'The cynical decision of senior personnel not to evacuate railway stations named in secondary warnings, even three hours after the warning device had exploded at Paddington in the early hours of this morning, was directly responsible for the casualties at Victoria.' The IRA statement went on to say: 'All future warnings should be acted upon.'

Police defended the decision not to close all stations after receiving warning that bombs had been planted. Commander George Churchill-Coleman, head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist squad, said that dozens of hoax calls were received every day. 'It is very easy with hindsight to be critical.' [11]

A year later, a French TV crew interviewed an IRA Commander who said he spoke on behalf of the IRA's GHQ Staff, several other IRA Volunteers were interviewed as part of an Active Service Unit (ASU) (armed with AR-15's, heavy machine guns, a revolver and an RPG-7). The commander of the unit said about the Victoria station bombing that warnings were given by telephone naming nine railroad stations in London and that a 50 minute warning was given. He went on to say that the attack was not aimed at hurting anybody but to disrupt the British transport system.[12]

The main purpose of the bombings in the overall IRA strategy was to keep pressure up on John Major, his Government and to make sure he acted on the Irish Troubles.

Aftermath

The IRA kept bombing targets in England, dozens of bombs went off in the run up to Christmas 1991. A number of incendiary devices ignited at The Discount Furniture Store, Habitat, The World of Leather, The Reject Shop and Tottenham Court Road causing damage to property but no injuries on 1 December 1991. An incendiary device ignited at Littlewoods, Oxford Street, London W1 on 2 December. There were further attacks throughout the month but no injuries.[13]

Almost a year later, in February 1992 a bomb went off at London Bridge station, injuring 30 people.[14]

In April a large bomb went off at the Baltic Exchange killing three people and causing £800 million worth of damage, £200 million more than the total damaged caused by the 10,000 explosions that had occurred during the Troubles in Northern Ireland up to that point.[15]

A bomb went off in Manchester in December 1992 injuring over 60 people.[16]

References

  1. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/cgi-bin/dyndeaths.pl?querytype=date&day=18&month=02&year=1991
  2. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/chron/ch91.htm#Feb
  3. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/cgi-bin/dyndeaths.pl?querytype=date&day=1&month=05&year=1988
  4. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/chron/ch88.htm#Aug
  5. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/cgi-bin/dyndeaths.pl?querytype=date&day=22&month=09&year=1989
  6. ^ http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1990/Minister-Says-London-Being-Subjected-To-IRA-Terror-Campaign/id-110fb3fa2bbe481e9f2adc0b8f0fe516
  7. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/chron/ch90.htm#Jul
  8. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/chron/ch90.htm#Jul
  9. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/uk/1991/feb/19/northernireland.duncancampbell
  10. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/cgi-bin/dyndeaths.pl?querytype=date&day=17&month=12&year=1983
  11. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1991/02/19/world/2-rail-terminals-in-central-london-hit-by-ira-bombs.html
  12. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXIJRtlNiPs
  13. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/chron/ch91.htm#Dec
  14. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/chron/ch92.htm#Feb
  15. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/chron/ch92.htm#Apr
  16. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/chron/ch92.htm#Dec

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