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Letter bombs target EU politicians

Prodi was not injured when a letter bomb exploded on January 27 at his home in Bologna.
Prodi was not injured when a letter bomb exploded on January 27 at his home in Bologna.

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European Union
Letter bombs
Acts of terror

MANCHESTER, England (CNN) -- A letter bomb exploded at the office of a British member of the European Parliament, but no one was hurt, a parliamentary official said.

It was the third such device sent to European Parliament members on Monday.

The most recent booby-trapped device, sent to Labour member Gary Titley's office in Manchester, caught on fire when opened, the official said.

"The package was in a jiffy bag," said Roger Fellows, a spokesman in Titley's office. "It was the last piece of mail Mr. Titley's secretary opened in the late morning and smoke started to come out. Then it burst into flames in front of her."

The spokesman for Titley -- the leader of the British Labour party in the European Parliament -- added that the office quickly filled with a "dark, acrid, smoke."

The package, postmarked from Italy, was similar to one sent to Germany's Hans-Gert Peottering, the head of the European People's Party, in Brussels earlier Monday. No one was injured when that device caught fire when it was opened at the European Parliament building.

"There was a bang in the office and a small fire that followed -- but no one was hurt," said an official in the EU building in Brussels. "It was controlled right away."

Also Monday, a device was sent to the office of Jose Ignacio Salafranca, a vice president in the same political group, but authorities confiscated it before it was opened.

Both packages in Brussels were in a small box about the size of a video cassette, and both were postmarked from Bologna, Italy, on December 22.

Monday's letter bombs are the latest in a series of incidents involving European officials in the past two weeks.

Trichet: Letter bomb was intercepted at the central bank
Trichet: Letter bomb was intercepted at the central bank

Four previous devices were also sent from the northern Italian city of Bologna -- to European Commission President Romano Prodi, European Central Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet, EU police agency Europol and Eurojust, which helps fight cross-border crime.

No one has been injured by any of the letter bombs, but the incidents come at a time of worldwide security jitters after a warning from the United States of an increased threat of terror attacks over Christmas and the New Year. (Full story)

European police forces are hunting for Italian anarchists suspected of being behind the mail bombs.

Italian authorities last week blocked mail sent from the Bologna region and addressed to European Union bodies. (Full story)

Prodi, the former Italian prime minister, escaped injury when a letter bomb burst into flame as he opened it on December 27 at his home in Bologna.

He said he opened the parcel very carefully after "recent warnings," apparently in reference to two small home-made bombs that exploded in rubbish bins near his Bologna apartment on December 22.

On December 29, letter bombs were intercepted at the Dutch headquarters of the EU's police agency Europol and at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. The second letter was addressed to Trichet, the ECB president.

Trichet, former governor of the Bank of France, was not injured in the incident.

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