Mail bomb kills 1 in Paris office

Package contained homemade devices, exploded at lawyer's office


PARIS -- A parcel bomb exploded at a lawyer's office in central Paris on Thursday, killing a secretary and seriously injuring an attorney, officials said.

The building also houses a foundation that does research on the Holocaust and a law firm that Nicolas Sarkozy, now the French president, helped to found. That firm is several floors below the one targeted.

Officials said the motive for the attack remained unclear. Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said anti-terrorist agents were investigating. She said there were two homemade explosive devices in the package and that both blew up.

She said the injured attorney's life was not in danger despite "very serious" wounds. Ten people were being treated for shock, prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin said.

An official close to the investigation said the bombing did not bear hallmarks of Islamic or Corsican terrorists, who often use bigger bombs and different methods. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, stressed that the investigation was in its early stages.

"Someone came to the office and left a package. The secretary who opened it in fact opened a parcel bomb. The parcel bomb killed her," said Christian Charriere-Bournazel, president of the Paris bar.

He said the injured person was a lawyer and that the woman who was killed was the lawyer's secretary.

He said the explosion "had nothing to do with" the law firm that Sarkozy opened with two other lawyers in 1987, because it is not on the same floor as the one targeted. Sarkozy's practice bore his name until his election in May, but is now called Arnaud Claude and Associates.

The bombed office was on the same floor as the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah. Created in 2000 with an endowment from recovered funds that were confiscated from French Jews during World War II, it supports research and education about the Holocaust and Jewish culture.

Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld, after visiting the Holocaust foundation, said it had never received any threats.

"Apparently the foundation was not the target," he said. He said the foundation has about a dozen employees and that none of them was injured.

Damien Laude, a construction worker across the street from the elegant building said he heard a muffled blast. Afterward, he saw a blonde woman carried out of the building.

"She was completely covered with blood, she was unconscious," he said. Afterward, Laude said, a man with a head wound also emerged from the building. Police and emergency vehicles quickly filled the wide Boulevard Malesherbes where the explosion occurred, cordoning off several neighboring buildings.

Police officials identified the injured attorney as Olivier Brane, a specialist in property law. He was being taken to a hospital, police said.

The prosecutor, Marin, said the package was a small wooden box and had two explosive devices inside. A messenger delivered the package, he said. He did not say if there were two explosions or one.

He said the law office did civil and commercial work, and that it was not immediately clear whether the package was addressed to a specific person in the office.

"We are trying to assemble the scattered pieces and to collect witness accounts to find out who it was addressed to," he said.

One window pane was broken on the 4th floor, but there was no other apparent external damage to the building, which also houses several law firms, dental offices and a neurologist's practice.

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