LONDON -- Police arrested eight animal rights activists Friday on suspicion of being connected to a bombing at Bristol University, 180 miles west of London, officials said.
The arrests were made 'in the early hours of the morning at a number of addresses in the Bristol area,' Inspector Graham Cawley of the Avon and Somerset Constabulary said.
Those charged were 'known sympathizers of animal rights groups,' he said. A breakdown on the charges was not immediately available.
A 5-pound bomb caused severe damage to administrative buildings at the university early Thursday morning but there were no injuries.
The Animal Liberation Front and the previously unknown Animal Abused Society both claimed responsibility for the device in telephone calls to news agencies, saying the university was engaged in maltreatment of research laboratory animals.
The ALF was responsible for nine fire-bombs in British department stores December protesting the fur trade, which left one store completely gutted, but this was believed to be the first time the group used explosives.
'This was an act of terrorism,' Education Minister Kenneth Baker said, visiting the scene Thursday. 'I deplore this in a university which enshrines free speech and measured judgment. Any cause which resorts to this has lost the argument.'
Bristol scientists do research in various medical areas, including cancer and glandular fever, using horses, monkeys, and cattle. They have said 90 percent of their experiments are carried out on rodents.