Au Bistro... (18k)

Bombs Away in Suburbia-la-ville

Paris:- Friday, 12. April 1996:- Instead of being in a bar last Monday, early am, morning, I was here doing something or other; two-thirds of the way through a long Easter weekend... early am as I said, and quite quiet, birds asleep, no parties in the neighborhood, just after midnight and Kaboom!

Not like the flat crack of a small caliber, more like a large a violent crash, but sharp and not like two cars crunching together. I've heard the sound before a few times at night and wondering what it was. There is little background noise out here and at night nearly none; on a long weekend even less.

About fifteen minutes later there was a lesser crash nearby, in our hall. Annoyed, I got up to look, but found no pile of mop and vacuum cleaner handles on the floor.

Late the same morning, my wife came in and said the telephone booth across from the supermarket looked like it had been blown up.

Blown up? Blown up! In our village? Blown up; that was the sound of the noise last night - an explosion!

Destroyed booth (18k)
Telephone accepts only 'smart' cards;
cause for destruction?
Sure enough, the telephone booth was blown to smithereens, (smithereens! - whatever they are). There was glass all over the street, part of one aluminum upright had been sheared clean away, and the rest was a total shambles. I did not see any sign of smoke or fire, and it was clear that somebody had afterwards done a bit of clean-up and piled some of the debris between what remained of the booth and the wall.

The story was not much different in Tuesday's Le Parisien, except that there were a few more details. Another similar blast had wrecked another telephone booth 24 hours earlier in a suburb about five kilometres away.

The paper had gone through its files and linked two other local blasts to the two of the weekend. A bomb blew out some ballast two stations away on the local SNCF line last 8. October, a Saturday, and 40 metres of electric wire and a nine-volt battery were found.

The other one I heard too. On the night of Sunday, 17 September, a bomb exploded near a electricity company transformer; which blacked out several surrounding communities. A large amount of wire was found nearby as well.

The local police and the criminal brigade from Versailles found few clues, and no motive. It was believed that the explosive was composed of a recipe of sodium chloride and sugar, ingredients obtainable everywhere. Judging from the state organizations targeted - France Telecom, the EDF, the SNCF - could it be anarchists, or simply kids playing with trouble?

There were no witnesses to any of the explosions and luckily there were no victims. Innocent citizens could have easily been passing near the two telephone booths; so the police are treating the matter seriously - the penalty could be five to ten years; or life in prison if anybody is killed.

Telephone (13k)
Pick up the receiver
and hear the dial tone.
By Tuesday afternoon, village employees had sealed off the telephone booth and were cleaning up the debris. At the entrance to the park across the street, I found a window seal from the booth - 40 metres away. I took the piece back, and out of curiosity, picked up the receiver. There was France Telecom's line hum; the telephone itself had withstood the vandals. The wreckage of the booth itself disappeared entirely on Wednesday.

For me the local bomb poses a question. Have I escaped my third bomb? You wouldn't be reading this if I hadn't escaped one and two - serious bombs, planted by real terrorists - so I have been kind of anxious about the third one. I heard the explosion of the first one, and now this one.

Look at the photo. Does it count as my third bomb, or am I still waiting for it?
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