Al-Qaeda parcel bomb 17 minutes from blast: French minister

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One of two Al-Qaeda bombs intercepted last week part way between Yemen and the United States was disarmed just 17 minutes before it was programmed to detonate, a French minister said Thursday.

Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux did not say which of the two parcel bombs found last Thursday at airports in Dubai and Britain was so close to exploding, nor what his source of the information was.

"There were parcel bombs from Yemen heading for the United States, and I can tell you, for example, that one of these parcels was disarmed 17 minutes before the planned explosion," he told France 2 television.

Hortefeux made the remark during a more general discussion of the threat of militant attacks on France and was not pressed for more information.

Packages addressed to synagogues in Chicago and holding the hard-to-detect explosive PETN hidden in ink toner cartridges were uncovered in Dubai and Britain last week, sparking a global security alert.

Washington believes the parcel bombs were the work of Saudi militant Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, a suspected Al-Qaeda bombmaker, and British officials have said they were powerful enough to bring down a plane in flight.

© 2010 AFP

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