Mystery explosives rattle Ikea stores in Europe
Police scrambled for clues Tuesday after booby-trapped packages exploded at three Ikea stores in Belgium, France and the Netherlands, with no one claiming responsibility for the acts.
The light explosives detonated at the Swedish furniture chain's stores in the Belgian city of Ghent, near Lille in northern France and Eindhoven in the Netherlands, on Monday late afternoon without causing damage or injuries.
"We are looking at all possible leads. We don't know who is behind this, nor why," the spokeswoman for the Ghent prosecutor's office, An Schoonjans, told AFP, adding that the store had not received any prior warning.
The Ikea premises in Ghent was evacuated after two small explosions took place almost simultaneously inside the store before closing time. An employee and a security agent complained of ear aches.
The devices were triggered by old mechanical alarm clocks that were attached to the explosives. Similar clocks, which are not sold at Ikea, were used near Lille and Eindhoven, said a Ghent police spokesman.
In Ghent, the clocks were concealed inside milk cartons and placed under pallets on the first floor. A triggering device was linked to the clock which caused a "tiny" quantity of powder to ignite, the police spokesman said.
Some 75 kilometres (47 miles) south, in the Lille suburb of Lomme, the kitchen section of the Ikea store was rattled by two explosions, 15 minutes apart, late in the afternoon, said a source close to the investigation. The explosives were also hidden under pallets.
"They were big fireworks, like those you can get in stores, attached to an alarm clock. Technically, it's not dangerous. We could imagine the goal was to intimidate, but there's no clear motive for now," the source said.
In Eindhoven, the explosive detonated inside a trash can near a temporary entrance to the store. The bomb squad later blew up a suspicious package near the same entrance.
An Ikea spokeswoman in Sweden said the explosions were caused by small fireworks devices.
"We had not received any threats against Ikea at all," Charlotte Lindgren told AFP.
Bomb-sniffing dogs searched the three stores, all of which opened on Tuesday morning, she said.
Belgian media recalled Tuesday that Ikea was recently criticised within the farming and food industries in Belgium because its cafeterias offer cheap meals, including steak with chips for 2.50 euros ($3.50).
© 2011 AFP