Islamic group suspected in Paris bombing


PARIS -- French police said yesterday that there were signs that a group linked to the violent conflict in Algeria was responsible for the bombing of a commuter train in Paris on Tuesday that killed seven people and injured more than 80.

Although police officials did not make a formal statement, they told reporters that they have a number of indications that the so-called Armed Islamic Group may be to blame.

This group is the most militant of several armed opposition movements trying to overthrow the military-backed Algerian government. A publication that generally represents the group's views, El Ansar, said in an issue distributed in Sweden on Friday that the rush-hour explosion on the train at the St.-Michel station on the Left Bank was one of the recent actions of "Islamic fighters." It did not explicitly cite the Armed Islamic Group.

The police said they were now certain that the explosives were placed in a thick metal gas canister of a kind commonly used by campers. Such gas canister bombs have been used previously by the Armed Islamic Group, officials said.

The police said that technicians were still comparing bomb fragments with other materials recently confiscated from suspected collaborators of Algerian militants in France.

In another lead, an auxiliary police officer who had been on the train shortly before the explosion said that he had seen two youths carrying a bag and that as he was getting off at Chatelet, the two youths got off but without the bag.

From the beginning of the investigation, officials have believed that a foreign group was responsible.

Human rights groups said they feared that the bombing would add to the rising sentiments against foreigners in this country.

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