A bomb ripped through Britain's Houses of Parliament on Monday (17 June), shattering the morning calm of Westminster and injuring 11 people.
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Background: A bomb ripped through Britain's Houses of Parliament on Monday (17 June), shattering the morning calm of Westminster and injuring 11 people. Only one of the injured was detained in hospital - she suffered a broken leg.
A man with an Irish accent made a warning telephone call to a London news organisations six minutes before the bomb exploded. The alarm was raised at Westminster, but before the area could be cleared the bomb went off. Londoners and tourists stood by in amazement as fire spread through an office annex near Westminster Hala, the most ancient and hallowed part of the parliamentary complex.
The bomb was comparatively small, abut 20 pounds (10kg). It apparently burst a gas pipe and that the ensuing fire, which smothered the are in dense smoke.
The fire spread quickly and at one stage firemen hacked through the roof to get at the flames. There were fears that the century-old timber beams, which support the 600-ton roof of Westminster Hall, could have been damaged. However, one official said the destruction could have been much worse.
The blast and subsequent fire did not disrupt Parliamentary proceedings. The House of Commons sat - as scheduled - several hours later.
However, the whole question of security at Westminster has been questioned. Precautions were tightened three years ago after a man in the spectators' gallery tossed a gas grenade into the Commons chamber. Police admit, though, that the building, with its maze of entrances and rambling corridors, could never be made hundred per cent safe.