One soldier was killed and nine were injured when an Irish Republican Army bomb flattened a British army barracks in north London today, the guerrilla group's first attack in mainland Britain since 1984.
The bomb crumpled the living quarters at Inglis Barracks at Mill Hill like a house of cards. Two victims were in serious condition.
Fires raged for three hours as rescuers pulled the injured from heaps of rubble and smoldering timber. Half of the barracks, the army's main postal depot in the capital, lies in Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Finchley constituency.
In 1984, the IRA, fighting to end British rule of Northern Ireland, staged its most spectacular attack on mainland Britain in the southern resort city of Brighton. Thatcher's government narrowly escaped in that bombing during a conference of her Conservative Party. Four died, including two members of Parliament.
Thatcher, who learned of today's explosion in Perth on the first day of her visit to Australia, said, she was "deeply distressed."
'Maiming and Murder'
Commenting on a small pro-Irish Republican demonstration during a walkabout, Thatcher said: "Never support the IRA; they try to pursue their ends by maiming and murder."
She spoke before the IRA issued a statement in London and Dublin claiming responsibility for the morning attack.
Construction worker Frank McParland, who was working inside the barracks, said the middle section was obliterated. The roof of the two-story red brick building was blown off.
One man was rescued alive after he was trapped beneath the debris. He was saved by a radiator that fell across him and shielded him from falling masonry.
The IRA vowed to step up its campaign against the British army after the killing by British security men of three IRA guerrillas in Gibraltar last March.
Residents in the affluent residential district complained that there was poor security at Inglis Barracks.