BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- Two bombs exploded today and two more were found in a 'necklace of death' around the house of a senior civil servant responsible for improving relations between Ulster's Protestants and Catholics, police said.
Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, 57, chief of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, and his wife and son were treated for shock from the blasts and released from a hospital.
Their home at Helen's Bay, 10 miles northeast of Belfast, was severely damaged in the two explosions at 6:15 a.m. and other nearby houses also were damaged, police said.
The Irish Republican Army, which is seeking to end British rule in Northern Ireland, said in a statement it carried out the attack 'with the intention of killing Sir Kenneth.' The IRA warned other civil servants who are involved in 'formulating British military strategy or advising the administration in this field to resign their posts or face the consequences.'
It was the first attack on a civil servant in recent years. Each bomb contained 20 pounds of Semtex, a Czech-made plastic explosive smuggled to the IRA by Libya, police said.
IRA gunmen shot to death a prominent Protestant Friday on a crowded commuter train and the Royal Ulster Constabulary predicted a 'horrific' escalation of of violence by the IRA through the end of the year.
In the province so far in 1988, the IRA has killed 34 members of security forces and 77 in all have died in sectarian violence.
In addition to the two bombs that exploded at the Bloomfield home, a third was found and quickly defused. A fourth bomb had been detected by 10:30 a.m., and more bombs may be hidden in the Bloomfields' house, police said.
'It was obvious whoever did this intended to demolish the house and kill its occupants,' a police spokesman said. 'It is nothing less than a necklace of death.'
Tom King, secretary for Northern Ireland, last year appointed Bloomfield as chief of a think tank to improve relations between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.
The post put Bloomfield on the front line of the conflict in Ulster because the IRA opposes alliances between the two peoples and seeks to end British rule in mostly Protestant Northern Ireland so it can be united with the Catholic Irish Republic.
The Rev. Ian Paisley, head of the Democratic Unionist Party, said the attack on the Bloomfields' home underscored the necessity for the government to rethink its security policy.
'It surely highlights the fact that the government security policy is in shreds when the head of the civil service's house can be blown up,' he said. 'It also highlights the fact of what the police have been saying -- that there is going to be a whole spate of killings before Christmas.
'I have never known any security force in the world that annouced the program of the terrorists and tells us that program is going to succeed.'
Civil servants' home have been targeted by the IRA in the past but a lull in the attacks in recent years prompted some to remove guards from their homes. Judges have borne the brunt of the attacks on civilians -- three have been killed in recent years.