An explosion caused by a homemade device hidden in a letter injured a female employee’s face and arms at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday in Paris. The improvised explosive device detonated as the employee opened the letter, and came after a string of recent telephone threats that have yet to be tied conclusively to the incident.
According to sources, the woman suffered burns on her face and arms, but her injuries are not life threatening. Shrapnel reportedly struck her in the face and she may also suffer hearing damage due to what the Paris police chief referred to as the “rather violent noise” the explosion produced. Her identity has not yet been released.
No group has claimed responsibility for the letter bombing thus far, though a militant Greek group called the Conspiracy of Fire Cells has claimed responsibility for a parcel bomb mailed to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble on Wednesday that was discovered by the German finance ministry’s mail department and thwarted by local law enforcement. There’s no word yet as to whether or not Thursday’s bomb mirrored Wednesday’s in design.
After the explosion, the staff of the International Monetary Fund were evacuated and a combination of military and law enforcement officers established a perimeter around the building as the investigation got underway. They proceeded to search all four floors of the facility, which included the offices for the World Bank, but found nothing suspicious to report. Damage to the structure of the building was limited due to the fairly small size of the explosive. Reports indicate that the device was home-made, but resembled a large fire cracker in composition.
Christine Lagarde, the director of IMF, learned of the explosion while traveling in Germany and promptly released an official statement condemning the attack.
“I condemn this cowardly act of violence and reaffirm the IMF’s resolve to continue our work in line with our mandate,” she said. “We are working closely with the French authorities to investigate this incident and ensure the safety of our staff.”
France remains in a state of emergency due to a rash of terror attacks in the past two years that have claimed as many as 235 lives to date. Among the attacks weathered by the French was a July 2016 vehicle attack that claimed 86 lives when a 19 ton cargo truck was deliberately driven through a crowd gathered to celebrate Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. A separate series of attacks in Paris that took place on November 13th and 14th of 2015 killed 130 people. Each of these incidents resulted in hundreds of injuries as well.
French President Francois Hollande stated in response to the letter bombing, “We are again confronted with an attack. There is no other word for it when you are confronted with a package bomb.”
While the Greek group, Conspiracy of Fire Cells, has not claimed responsibility for the attack, unconfirmed reports suggest that a spokesman for the group took to a Greek left-wing website to say their attack on Wednesday, as well as the unclaimed Thursday attack, were both parts of a larger campaign organized by international anarchist groups. Many in the Greek community resent austerity measures introduced by the IMF, as well as the European Union, as a result of the economic bailout program created for Greece.
The bomb sent by Conspiracy of Fire Cells on Wednesday was destroyed via controlled detonation and is said to have been composed of a similar explosive to those used in fire crackers, not unlike the explosives found in Paris.
Image courtesy of Reuters