Aldwych bus bombing
|1996 Aldwych bus bombing|
|Part of the Troubles|
|Location||Aldwych, London, UK|
|Date||18 February 1996 |
|Target||the West End|
|Perpetrator||Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA)|
The Aldwych bus bombing occurred on 18 February 1996 when an improvised explosive device being carried by Irish republican Edward O'Brien detonated prematurely on a number 171 bus in Aldwych, in the West End of London. The 2 kg semtex bomb detonated as he stood near the door of the bus.
The bomb killed O'Brien instantly and injured people both inside and outside the bus, including the driver, Bob Newitt, who became permanently deaf. The victims were brought to St Thomas's Hospital and University College Hospital. Three of them were in two cars in front of the bus at the time. Evidence suggested that the bomb exploded whilst O'Brien stood at the bottom of the stairs of the double-decker bus. The blast could be heard from 5 miles away. Police said they received no warning about the bomb. The incident also forced the closure of Charing Cross railway station.
The bus bombing came just nine days after the Docklands bombing in east London, which marked a violent end of the IRA's ceasefire and the resumption of its terrorist campaign in England. On 16 February, an IRA bomb planted in a telephone box on Charing Cross Road, near Leicester Square tube station, was destroyed by a remote controlled robot from the police after a telephone warning.
It was initially reported by some media that three people were killed, but it then became clear that only one, the perpetrator, had died.
A subsequent police search of the London address of Edward O'Brien, a Provisional IRA member, discovered 15 kg of semtex, 20 timers, 4 detonators and ammunition for a 9 mm Walther revolver, along with an incendiary device. The Walther pistol was discovered on him after his death. The police said they were also almost certain that O'Brien was the person who planted the telephone box bomb three days before the bus bombing.
Another Irishman, Brendan Woolhead, who was in the area at the time of the explosion and suffered a fractured skull, was briefly suspected and accused of involvement. His name was cleared and he subsequently won around £200,000 in damages for libel. Woolhead died in October 1996 due to drug detoxification treatment for addiction to heroin.
The destroyed bus was a Leyland Titan double-decker bus - fleet number T990, registration WLT 990, originally registered as A990 SYE in 1984 - operated by London Central and travelling its route from Catford to Holborn. The bus had travelled across Waterloo Bridge and just passed Somerset House and the Strand intersection when the explosion happened.
- Docklands bombing
- 1996 Hammersmith Bridge bomb
- 2005 London bombings
- Provisional Irish Republican Army campaign 1969–1997
- "Bomb blast destroys London bus". BBC News. 18 February 1996. Retrieved 2007-06-13.
- English, Richard (2003). Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA. Pan Books. p. 291. ISBN 0-330-49388-4.
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- Peadar Whelan. "Ed O'Brien remembered". An Phoblacht. Retrieved 2007-06-13.
- IRA Man: Talking with the Rebels by Douglass McFerran (ISBN 978-0275955915), page 8
- Lyall, Sarah (16 February 1996). "I.R.A. Bomb Destroyed in Central London" – via NYTimes.com.
- Archive, Abdul Kareem, Head of (17 February 2016). "February 18, 1996: IRA bomb on London bus kills three".
- Lost Lives, ISBN 1-84018-504-X
- "Dead IRA man 'had hit-list' of bomb targets". 17 April 1996.
- "Doctor linked to drug detox death 'danger to the public' - Independent.ie".
- "IAN'S BUS STOP: LONDON's LEYLAND TITANS". www.countrybus.org.