Paris IMF explosion: Letter bomb blast leaves one person injured

A woman has been injured by a parcel bomb posted to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) offices in Paris.

The employee opened a package that contained an explosive substance, burning her hands and face.

It was intended for the IMF’s European representative, Jeffrey Franks, who has been in his post since March 2015 after 24 years at the IMF.

A spokesperson for the Paris prefecture of police said: “An operation is underway for a person injured by a suspicious package with, according to preliminary information, a firework inside.”

Investigators told BFMTV the device was a “large black cylinder, about 30cm long”, with the blast so large the room’s ceiling was hit by shrapnel.

Police authorities in Paris said the explosive substance was not a bomb but rather a homemade “big firecracker”.

Michel Cadot, the chief of Paris police, said the secretary’s hearing was also affected and she was receiving treatment.

Asked if the head of the IMF’s European office had received threats, he added: “There had been some phone calls in recent days but they don’t seem necessarily to be linked to this matter.”

France’s anti-terrorism branch has opened an investigation into attempted murder, destruction through explosive means, possession of explosive substance and links with a terrorist initiative.

Francois Hollande, who was on a visit to the south of France near Toulon, called the incident “an attack” on France and said those responsible will be found.

“There is no other word for it when you are confronted with a package bomb,” the President said.  “I want to tell all those who work for this great institution that we are by their side.”

IMF director Christine Lagarde, who is on a trip to Germany, said French authorities would ensure the safety of its staff.

“I condemn this cowardly act of violence and reaffirm the IMF’s resolve to continue our work in line with our mandate,” she said.

Around 150 employees were evacuated from the building, in the 16th arrondissement, as a precaution and forensic officers were on site.

It came a day after a Greek anarchist group claimed responsibility for an explosive package found at the offices of Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble.

“The package contained an explosive mix,” Berlin Police said in a statement. “It was designed to cause severe injuries when the package is opened.”

Investigators said the substance found was frequently used in the production of fireworks.

Greece’s interior ministry said the package had a Greek stamp and was falsely put under the name of a New Democracy party member.

An investigation is underway into how the explosives bypassed Greek security checks to leave the country.

A spokesperson for Berlin Police could not confirm whether the incidents were linked.

A left-wing extremist group called Synomosia Pyrinon Tis Fotias (Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei) claimed responsibility for the package in Germany, saying it was part of its “Nemesis operation” in revenge for the imprisonment of activists.

After a series of firebombings, several members were arrested in 2009 and 2010 while attempting to send parcel bombs to embassies, EU leaders and organisations.

France remains on high alert following a series of Isis-linked terror attacks that have sparked an ongoing state of emergency.

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