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Bomb Explodes At Venue Of Commonwealth Summit

July 20, 1991 GMT

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) _ A bomb exploded Saturday, devastating the ground floor of a hotel that is to serve as the venue of the Commonwealth summit in October, officials said.

Three employees of the Harare Sheraton Hotel were slightly injured by the blast, which occurred shortly after midnight, police said.

The lobby, a bar and two restaurants were damaged, and several hundred guests were evacuated to other hotels.

No group claimed responsibility for the explosion.

But State Security Minister Sydney Sekeremayi said the bomb could have been linked to the Oct 16-22 Commonwealth summit, and said security would be tightened. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is to open the gathering.

The Sheraton and the adjoining Harare International Conference Center are the venues of the 48-nation Commonwealth summit. The organization is made up of Britain and its former colonies.

In London, Commonwealth officials told Britain’s Press Association news agency that the bombing was unlikely to prevent the event.

″This incident is regrettable,″ a spokeswoman said. ″But it does not in any way affect our confidence that the meeting in Harare will take place.″