Two bombs explode in Stockmann

  • 2000-05-25
  • By Brooke Donald
TALLINN - Four people, including a 15-month-old child, sustained minor
injuries after two bombs exploded on May 19 in a popular Finnish
department store in Estonia's capital.

A 29-year-old woman was treated for minor burns at a local hospital,
Indrek Raudjalg, a police spokesman said in the parking lot outside
Stockmann department store.

Another woman, 30, her child, 15-months old, and a male Estonian
Security Services guard, 22, all suffered from shock but were released
after being treated at the scene by paramedics.

The first blast occurred at 4:42 a.m. in the cookie aisle of the food
department on Stockmann's ground floor, Raudjalg said. ESS security
guards were the only people in the store at the early hour, more than
five hours before Stockmann opens. No one was injured in that blast.

According to preliminary reports, the security officers received a
phone call two hours before the first blast warning that after 15
minutes a bomb would explode. The guards called the bomb squad at the
Rescue Board who investigated outside Stockmann and in the ESS office
on the premises but found nothing.

Raudjalg explained that miscommunication between the Rescue Board and
ESS prevented the bomb squad from searching the whole store. According
to him, the bomb squad understood they could not enter the food
department without setting off alarms.

A few minutes after 3 a.m., a second call came in to the ESS office at
the store. The caller, speaking in Russian, demanded 2 million kroons
and said another bomb was set to explode in the recently renovated
14,500 square meter shopping center.

The caller is believed by police to be around 30-years-old. So far,
they have no suspects, Raudjalg said.

A statement released by Stockmann said the store received a call
warning about the explosive device but no one is willing to comment
about the money.

The bomb squad searched until 3:30 a.m. without finding an explosive
device, Raudjalg said.

The second explosion that caused the injuries occurred just before 11
a.m. in the juice aisle of the groceries department. ESS called the
fire department at 10:58 a.m. to report the blast. The fire squad
arrived minutes later, Rau-djalg said. After the second bomb, police
closed down the busy streets surrounding Stockmann and evacuated and
closed the building.

By early afternoon the traffic flowed smoothly again but police
ribbons still surrounded the store and its parking lot. Officers
blocked entrance into the area and a fire truck and ambulance sat
on-call in the outside parking lot.

Bomb threats are not uncommon in Tallinn. Rau-djalg said bomb threats
are called in nearly everyday, mainly by children saying a bomb is
about to explode in an area school. Raudjalg added that a few months
ago, the police received 16 bomb threats in one day, the most ever.

"There are always threats, but no explosions - until now," he said.

Police investigate all threats seriously, he said.

Stockmann, which invested 223 million kroons in renovations completed
only two months ago, opened again over the weekend and so far there
have been no further incidents.

After the blasts, local media began speculating about motive and
possible culprits. Eesti Paevaleht and Postimees said in their editorials that money could
not have been the motive as the caller broke off his conversation with
the security guard prior to leaving details about where the money
should be left, according to early reports. The papers concluded, with
no backing from police, that the person who planted the explosive
devices sought to defame the prestigious Stockmann, hurt Estonia's
reputation abroad and scare society.

Police won't comment about motive.