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1996 Docklands bombing

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1996 Docklands bombing

Docklands bombing
Part of The Troubles
Location South Quay station, Isle of Dogs, London
Date 9 February 1996
19:01 (GMT)
Target Canary Wharf financial district
Attack type
Truck bomb
Deaths 2
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrator Provisional IRA

The Docklands bombing (also known as the Canary Wharf bombing or South Quay bombing) occurred on 9 February 1996, when the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) detonated a truck bomb in Canary Wharf, one of London's two main financial districts. It brought an end to the IRA's seventeen-month ceasefire. Although the IRA had sent warnings 90 minutes beforehand, two people were killed and the bomb caused an estimated £100 million worth of damage.

The bombing

At about 19:01 on 9 February, the IRA detonated a large bomb containing 500 kg of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and sugar,[1][2] in a small lorry about 80 yards (70 m) from South Quay Station on the Docklands Light Railway (in the Canary Wharf area of London), directly under the point where the tracks cross Marsh Wall.[3] The detonating cord was made of semtex, PETN and RDX high explosives.[1] The IRA had sent telephoned warnings 90 minutes beforehand, and the area was evacuated. However, two men working in the newsagents shop directly opposite the explosion, Inan Bashir and John Jeffries, had not been evacuated in time and were killed. 39 people required hospital treatment due to blast injuries and falling glass. Part of the South Quay Plaza was destroyed.[3] The explosion left a crater ten metres wide and three metres deep.[1] The shockwave from the blast caused windows as far east as Barking, approximately five miles away, to rattle.

Approximately £100 million worth of damage was done by the blast.[1] Three nearby buildings (the Midland Bank building, South Quay Plaza I and II) were severely damaged (the latter two requiring complete rebuilding whilst the former was beyond economic repair and was demolished). The station itself was extensively damaged, but both it and the bridge under which the bomb was exploded were reopened within weeks (on 22 April), the latter requiring only cosmetic repairs despite its proximity to the blast.

This bomb represented the end to the IRA ceasefire during the Northern Ireland peace process at the time. James McArdle was convicted of conspiracy to cause explosions, and sentenced to 25 years in prison, but murder charges were dropped. McArdle was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement in June 2000 with a royal prerogative of mercy from Queen Elizabeth II.[4]

The IRA described the deaths and injuries as a result of the bomb as "regrettable", but said that they could have been avoided if police had responded promptly to "clear and specific warnings". Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir Paul Condon said: "It would be unfair to describe this as a failure of security. It was a failure of humanity."[5]

On 28 February, John Major, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and John Bruton, the Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland, announced that all-party talks would be resumed in June. Major's decision to drop the demand for IRA decommissioning of weapons before Sinn Fein would be allowed into talks led to criticism from the press, which accused him of being "bombed to the table".[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Oppenheimer, A. R. (2009). IRA: The Bombs and The Bullets. A History of Deadly Ingenuity. Irish Academic Press, p. 129. ISBN 978-0-7165-2895-1
  2. ^ Bangash & Bangash (2006).Explosion-resistant buildings: design, analysis, and case studies. Springer, p. 10. ISBN 3-540-20618-3
  3. ^ a b Tumposky, Ellen (10 February 1996). "Blast shatters London, Adams Presumes IRA's Responsible".  
  4. ^
  5. ^ BBC ON THIS DAY 10 February, 1996: Docklands bomb ends IRA ceasefire
  6. ^ Oppenheimer, p.130

External links

  • BBC Report on the bombing
  • Memories of the Docklands bomb by the BBC
  • IRA Bomb Shatters the Peace by the Canadian encyclopedia
  • Breakdown of Provisional IRA Cease-fire by the BBC
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