Blast hits UK embassy in Croatia

An explosive device detonated on Monday in the mail room at the British embassy in Zagreb, injuring one person slightly, the embassy said.

An embassy spokesperson in the Croatian capital said the device, which Britain’s Sky News channel described as a letter bomb, exploded at 7.30am (5.30am GMT).

“There has been an incident at the British embassy in Zagreb. An explosive device appears to have detonated in the post room at around 7.30am,” said spokesperson Tessa Fras.

“One person has sustained minor injuries,” she said, adding that ambassador Sir John Ramsden was not in the embassy at the time of the incident but had since gone to the scene.

“Security has been stepped up and the local authorities are investigating the cause of the blast,” said Fras.

A British Foreign Office spokesperson in London also said the person suffered “minor injuries” but did not say whether he or she was of British or Croatian nationality.

The embassy was evacuated shortly after the incident, according to a source who requested anonymity. Croatian police were not immediately available for comment.

The blast comes after months of criticism in Croatia over Britain’s tough stance on the former Yugoslav republic’s cooperation with the United Nations war-crimes tribunal in The Hague.

Britain is known to have pressed Zagreb to arrest and extradite fugitive former general Ante Gotovina, who is wanted by the UN court for crimes against ethnic Serbs at the end of the 1991-1995 Serbo-Croatian war.

The case is hampering Zagreb’s bid to join the European Union—currently chaired by Britain—as the 25-nation-bloc has put on hold the opening of accession talks until Gotovina is arrested and handed over to The Hague.

Gotovina (49) was charged in 2001 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia with the killing of at least 150 ethnic Serb civilians in 1995.

Zagreb has insisted it has no knowledge of the former general’s whereabouts, saying he has probably fled the Balkan country.

Gotovina is seen as a national hero by many in Croatia.—Sapa-AFP

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