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Man Charged in London Bombings

May 2, 1999

LONDON (AP) _ Police charged a white man with murder Sunday in a nail-bombing campaign against gays and ethnic minorities in London that has killed three people and wounded more than 100.

David Copeland, a 22-year-old engineer, worked alone in all three bombings and was not a member of the neo-Nazi groups that claimed responsibility, authorities said.

Copeland was arrested early Saturday at his home at Cove, southwest of London, and will appear in court Monday, Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Alan Fry announced.

He has been charged with the deaths of three people killed in the worst explosion, a nail-bomb attack Friday in a gay pub in central London, and with similar attacks April 17 and April 24 in London districts with large ethnic minorities. A total of 115 people were wounded.

Nineteen of the more than 70 people injured in Friday’s explosion remained hospitalized, including six in critical condition. Among the victims were people who had limb amputations and others with severe burns.

A neo-Nazi organization, Combat 18, claimed responsibility for the first two explosions in the Brixton and Brick Lane neighborhoods of London. The White Wolves, believed to be an even more radical offshoot, said they were responsible for Friday’s attack. But police said Sunday that the claims appeared to be hoaxes.

Police said they had seized ``combustible materials″ from the suspect’s house, and that he appeared to be the man captured on closed circuit TV in Brixton who was suspected of planting that bomb there.

In the pub bombing, witnesses reported seeing a man with a blond goatee leaving a bag in the Admiral Duncan moments before the explosion. Police said the bomb was a ``relatively rudimentary and crude″ device about the size of a shoebox, packed with nails and other metallic objects.

Two of those killed in the pub in the heart of London’s Soho district were identified Sunday as a 27-year-old pregnant woman, Andrea Dykes, and the best man at her 1997 wedding, John Light, 35. Her husband Julian Dykes, was badly injured.

Relatives, quoted by Sunday newspapers, said the group from Colchester, 55 miles northeast of London, had gone to the capital to see the musical ``Mamma Mia″ and dropped by the Admiral Duncan.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, addressing Sikh religious leaders in the central England city of Birmingham, said the Sikh message of tolerance ``could not be more relevant.″

``The only good that can come out of these nail bombs is that they spur all of us, whatever race, age, creed or sexuality, to work harder to build the one nation Britain that the decent majority want, and to bring our community closer together,″ said Blair.

Queen Elizabeth II sent her ``heartfelt sympathy″ Saturday to the families of the dead and wounded.

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