LONDON -- A letter bomb mailed to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was intercepted and safely defused today just hours after another letterbomb exploded in the U.S Navy's European headquarters in London, police said.
No one was injured in the incident at 10 Downing street, but a chief petty officer burned his hand when a letter bomb burst into flames at headquarters of the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Naval Forces Europe.
Both bombs were fitted into standard white business envelopes. One of them was addressed to Mrs. Thatcher and the other to the U.S. Navy at its headquarters building on North Audley street near the U.S. Embassy.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for either letterbomb but Scotland Yard said they believe they were related.
'We believe they are connected and are part of the series of bombs sent to the U.S. Embassy and Soviet offices over the past few months,' one police source said.
A U.S. Navy spokesman identified the injured petty officer as John E. Williams, 42, of Pensacola, Fla.
'The device caused a minor burn on the hand of the enlisted person who opened it but resulted in no other injuries and no damage,' the spokesman said. 'The person was treated for his minor burn by Navy medical corpsmen and has returned to duty.'
A Scotland Yard spokesman said there was a note in the envelope sent to the Navy, 'but it was badly charred and we are making forensic tests on the outside first.'
A few weeks ago a letter bomb was mailed to the U.S. Embassy in Grosvenor Square but was defused.
Militant animal lovers campaigning against experiments on animals have claimed responsibility for most of the letterbombs sent over the past four months.
But police said there appeared to be no connection between those attacks and the letter bomb mailed to the American military building.