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London Book Store Bombed; Rushdie Connection Suspected

July 6, 1989

LONDON (AP) _ A bomb today extensively damaged a London book store whose sister shop was attacked by arsonists in what authorities said was a campaign against Salman Rushdie’s novel ″The Satanic Verses.″

Many Moslems consider the novel blasphemous and the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called in February for the author to be sought out and killed.

Scotland Yard said no one was injured in the 3:30 a.m. blast from a homemade bomb inside Collet’s book store on Charing Cross Road in central London. Damage to the store was extensive. Windows were blown out and the explosion was followed by a fire.

Collet’s said the fire destroyed the first floor and set off water sprinklers which destroyed thousands of books.

Three ″improvised devices″ were found at the scene, Scotland Yard said in a statement. No further information was immediately available.

Devices in police parlance normally means bombs, but it was not clear whether these were in addition to the bomb that caused the explosion or whether one of the three devices exploded.

Police said anti-terrorist detectives are investigating but gave no indication who is believed responsible for the bombing. No one claimed responsibility.

Store manager Carol Taylor said the employees believe the attackers mistook the store for another branch of Collet’s just 100 yards away which stocks ″The Satanic Verses″ and was firebombed on April 9.

Ms. Taylor said her store stopped selling Rushdie’s best-seller after employees voted in December that it should not be stocked.

A sign reading ″We don’t sell ’The Satanic Verses‴ was placed in the window, Ms. Taylor said, but it was removed last month because managers thought the controversy had died down.

″I heard about the attack on the news this morning and I thought to myself, ’They’ve got the wrong shop,‴ Ms. Taylor said, adding the store probably will be shut for several months.

Police said the April bombing was part of an intimidation campaign by Moslem militants trying to halt sales of Rushdie’s book.

Rushdie, a naturalized Briton born in India, has been in hiding since Khomeini, spiritual leader of Iran’s fundamentalist revolution, on Feb. 14 called on Moslems to find and kill him.

Two Iranian Moslem clergymen backed Khomeini’s call by offering a total of $5.2 million for Rushdie’s death.

Sales of the book in Britain and elsewhere rocketed following the publicity created by Khomeini’s death call.