A bomb exploded on a busy north London shopping street Saturday, injuring 18 people, including two children.
A telephone warning had given the wrong location for the bomb, and police were unwittingly directing people toward the device when it went off, police said.
Police Cmdr. Bernard Luckhurst condemned the bombing as “a callous attempt to injure as many people as possible.”
The blast is thought to be the work of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which is running a campaign to terrorize English cities in its effort to force Britain to give up control of Northern Ireland.
On Friday, the IRA claimed responsibility for three explosions that destroyed a huge gas storage tank and seriously damaged another in Warrington, 200 miles northwest of London.
The scene of Saturday’s bombing was not far from Camden Lock market, a popular weekend rendezvous that attracts thousands of shoppers and tourists.
The small but powerful bomb went off in a trash can on the sidewalk. The most seriously injured was a young woman who suffered a broken leg and other injuries from flying debris from the device. The other casualties included a boy about 10 who suffered severe shock and a 4-year-old girl with an injured leg.
Luckhurst said the warning of an incorrect location was “clearly designed to injure people who were being escorted away from the supposed location of the bomb. I cannot imagine a more callous act designed to injure people.”
Police said a recognized IRA code word was used in telephoned warnings of a bomb in Camden, and an earlier coded warning indicated a bomb would go off on busy Oxford Street in central London.
“Both areas had to be cleared, and explosives officers were in attendance,” a Scotland Yard spokesman said.
Traffic in central and north London was disrupted most of Saturday afternoon because of the bomb and the threats, police said.