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Plastic may link IRA group to blast

LONDON (AP) — Pieces of blue plastic similar to those used in bombings blamed on Irish Republican Army dissidents were found at the scene of an explosion outside the British Broadcasting Corp.'s television center, Scotland Yard said Saturday.

Police said the blue plastic may link the blast to an IRA splinter group. One person suffered minor injuries when a taxi laden with explosives blew up outside the BBC complex last week.

Investigators believe the blast was an effort by the dissidents to scuttle the peace process.

"We know that blue barrel-type containers have been used in terrorist attacks in Northern Ireland," said Deputy Assistant Police Commissioner Alan Fry.

"We suspect that one or more may have been used in this recent incident, although at this stage we cannot be 100 percent sure."

Police said pieces of blue plastic were found in the area where the red taxi exploded. The fragments were being examined by forensic experts.

The explosion, which followed two telephoned warnings, sent an orange fireball through the sky in a quiet west London neighborhood just after midnight March 11. Police believe two bombers left the scene around 10:40 p.m. March 10.

Britain has been on high alert since, and police say they fear further attacks.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has vowed the explosion will not deter peace efforts in Northern Ireland.

No group claimed responsibility for the bombing, but Scotland Yard blamed defectors from the Irish Republican Army, which has observed a cease-fire since 1997. IRA splinter groups that want to keep up the fight to drive British troops out of Northern Ireland have been linked by police to a series of attacks in recent months in London.

Tensions in Northern Ireland have been rising over stalled IRA disarmament and bitter quarrels over police reforms in the province. Blair and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern met last week at talks near Belfast.