Poland says extremist planned to blow up parliament

WARSAW Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:33am GMT

1 of 6. A combination of handout photos distributed by Poland's Prosecutors Office, November 20, 2012, showing evidence recovered by police of a planned attack in Warsaw.

Credit: Reuters/Polish Prosecutors Office/Handout

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WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish officials said on Tuesday they had arrested a radical nationalist who planned to detonate a vehicle loaded with four tonnes of explosives outside parliament, possibly when the president and prime minister were in the building.

Prosecutors said the man, a scientist who works for a university in the southern city of Krakow, had assembled a small arsenal of explosive material, guns and remote-controlled detonators and was trying to recruit others to help him.

A video recording taken from the suspect showed what prosecutors said was a test explosion he conducted, leaving a large crater in the ground.

Polish television, citing sources close to the investigation, said the suspect planned to copy methods used by Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in bomb and gun attacks in Norway last year and said he was driven by far-right views.

"The suspect does not belong to a political group or party. He claims that he was acting on nationalistic, anti-Semitic and xenophobic motives," prosecutor Piotr Krason told a news conference.

"He carried out reconnaissance in the neighbourhood of the Sejm (parliament). This building was to be the target of the attack. He collected explosives and materials for detonation," Krason said.

Poland has no experience of militant violence in its modern history. Society is though deeply polarised between supporters of liberal values and those who believe the country is neglecting its Catholic roots and succumbing to foreign influence.

Earlier this month, a rally in the capital, Warsaw, by right-wing nationalists turned violent, when youths in the crowd started throwing flares and stones at police.

Earlier on Tuesday, prosecutors said they had initiated legal proceedings against the bomb plot suspect on November 5 and that Poland's Internal Security Agency would handle the case.

"The case looks very serious," Pawel Gras, a government spokesman, told TOK FM radio station. "We know that the possible targets were to be the president, the parliament and the government."

(Writing by Christian Lowe)

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