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12 injured in St James blast *LINK*

6 suspects in custody


TWELVE persons were injured when a bomb rocked the Western Main Road, St James, shortly after seven o’clock last night. Six suspects were in custody last night as police investigate yet another explosion in North Trinidad.

The bomb — the fourth in the country within the last three months — was detonated in front of the popular Smokey and Bunty Bar at the corner of Dengue Street and the Western Main Road.

Twelve persons were taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital where two were listed in serious condition. Two were discharged and the rest were awaiting scans and other forms of medical attention.

Listed in serious condition were Elma Antonia Thomas, 65, and Russell Thomas, both of Romeo Street, St James.

The other injured persons were: Alika Alexander, 27, of Moraldo Street, Maraval; Indira Coleman, 30, of First Street, Five Rivers, Arouca; Leslie Ann Peters, 34, of Bagatelle, Diego Martin; Ryan Bates, 41, of Jackson Hill, East Dry River; Carol Merrin, 49, of Lady Young Road, Morvant; Lavaughn Allain, 31, of Union Road, Four Roads, Diego Martin; Maurice Davis, 17, of Warren Street, Woodbrook; Annesa Clement, 30, of Upper Bournes Road, St James; Nazeema Baksh, 22, of Anderson Street, St James; and Ako David, 26, of Toppin Street, Cantaro Village, Santa Cruz.

One eyewitness told Newsday that he turned on his television to look at the news at 7.05 pm. He went onto the Western Main Road to buy something to drink when he heard the explosion.

Nazeema Baksh, one of the injured persons, was setting up her bake and shark stall in front of Smokey and Bunty, when the bomb exploded near to the telephone booth. Baksh suffered burns to her left hand and a cut on her right hand.

Two of the injured were employees of the EHS Ambulance Service. They had just stopped on the Western Main Road to get something to eat, and the blast occurred as they were returning to the vehicle.

One investigator said the suspect (s) may have placed the device in an ice box near to the telephone booth in front of the drinking establishment. At the time, the area was busy as Friday evening limers were already enjoying themselves.

The blast caused panic in St James as most of the eating establishments closed their doors for the night. St James did not look like St James. Even the crowd was small as the majority of people hustled out of the area. Within minutes, several ambulances were on the scene shuttling the injured to hospital.

Police cordoned off most of St James as they tried to secure the crime scene. Police hustling to the scene detained five suspects near to the Jamaat Al Muslimeen headquarters on Mucurapo Road. The sixth suspect was held near the crime scene and quickly taken to the St James Police Station.

The media was kept at bay as bomb experts searched for clues. One police officer, annoyed at the number of media personnel, remarked, "I wish it have a bomb in one of these (police) vehicles." Stunned reporters could not believe that a senior policeman could have said that.

Sniffer dogs from the K-9 section were soon on the scene along with two FBI officers. Commissioner of Police Trevor Paul headed a team of senior investigators to the scene. During the evening, Minister of National Security Martin Joseph and his junior Fitzgerald Hinds arrived to get an update from the investigators.

But they stayed far away from the media, liming under Rib House. One St James resident said it was the first time that he had seen two silent ministers on such an important matter. Port-of-Spain Mayor Murchison Brown and Energy Minister Eric Williams turned up to see what was happening.

To add to the drama, a woman taking in the action collapsed at the corner of Bournes Road and had to be rushed to hospital by the police.

This was the fourth blast in the last three months. On July 11, a bomb exploded on Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain, injuring 14 persons. On August 10, another exploded on George Street, but no one was injured. On September 11, the third bomb detonated in a dumpster at KFC, Independence Square, injuring one employee.

No one was arrested for the first three blasts.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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