BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- Seven people, including five police officers, were wounded by two car bombs that exploded Thursday in Northern Ireland, and the Royal Ulster Constabulary blamed the attacks on the Irish Republican Army.
The bombs, estimated at around 1,000 pounds each, exploded in commercial districts of Belfast and Lurgan, 20 miles west of the provincial capital.
The explosions caused massive structural damage to buildings for a radius of half a mile. Engineers who examined the damage said at least five buildings in both towns would have to be demolished.
'There is no doubt the IRA was responsible, and that government buildings were the targets,' a police spokesman said:
In each incident a 30-minute telephone warning was given and a recognized IRA codeword was used, the spokesman said.
The seven people who were wounded were all caught in the explosion in Lurgan as police evacuated the main street. Most of the injuries were minor, but two policemen were admitted to a local hospital with broken legs.
'Shortly before 12:30 a.m. Thursday a Toyota pick-up van exploded in the High Street, Lurgan, as police were cordoning off the area following a previous warning,' an RUC spokesman said.
The bombers hijacked a car and forced the driver to take them into Lurgan town center, accompanying the Toyota van that later exploded, the RUC said.
In Belfast, a second car bomb went off early Thursday when a car exploded in Belfast's Adelaide Street. The car had been taken from Fort Street in the west of the city. There were no reports of injuries.
Since January the IRA has set off nine massive bombs in Belfast and four other towns causing millions of pounds of damage.
Because of huge claims for compensation the British government has frozen all its building work in Norhern Ireland indefinitely.