Explosions near British consulate in New York shatter windows

Thursday, May 5, 2005

Videotape from security cameras appeared to show a cyclist lighting metal canisters that were filled with gun powder, and throwing them toward the building before fleeing the scene, police sources said. The make-shift explosives blew up in a concrete flower box, shattering glass but causing no injuries.

Two explosions were heard before 4am EST this morning, outside the 21-story building housing the British consulate in midtown Manhattan (map). The NYPD's bomb squad was called to the scene, and checked the area for further explosive devices. CNN and the Times Online reported a blast at 3:35; an AP report mentioned two blasts around 3:50 from "in or near a cement flower box," according to NYPD spokesman Noel Waters.

The damage from the explosion included broken windows in the building, a parked car, and the front door of the building. NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg noted that police closed Third Avenue between 51st and 53rd Streets. European markets reacted quickly to the news, which briefly increased volatility in all assets, according to Dow Jones news wires.

It is not yet known whether this is related to Britain's general election today, featuring Prime Minister Tony Blair's bid for his third term. Mayor Bloomberg told reporters, "We do not at this point have any idea who did it, or a motive...I don't think anybody should jump to conclusions".

Police think the target may have actually been a board member of Caterpillar, Inc., who works in the same building. Caterpillar sells bulldozers used by Israel to demolish Palestinian homes. NYC Police Chief Raymond Kelly noted the building was the site of an April 13 demonstration by a group called Jews Against the Occupation.