Hunt for blond bomber with Ikea grudge
POLICE throughout Europe are hunting for an English-speaking "Ikea bomber" after explosions at four of the Swedish group's stores in four countries.
German police have released a photofit image of a man wanted in connection with an attack on a crowded outlet in Dresden. Two customers were injured when a bomb triggered by a mobile telephone exploded in the kitchenware department on Friday night.
The Dresden bombing followed simultaneous attacks on Ikea shops in Lille in France, Eindhoven in Holland and Ghent in Belgium on May 31. The three small bombs, detonated by alarm clocks, caused minor damage and two injuries.
Police are searching for a short, blond man, believed to be about 40 and English-speaking. Witnesses saw a man of that description, wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap, fleeing the Dresden outlet before the blast.
Officers are investigating whether the motive behind the attacks is the radical, pro-fascist past of Ikea's founder, Ingvar Kamprad.
In his youth during World War Two he became a member of a Nazi-style party that supported Hitler and his anti-semitic policies. After Swedish television exposed his past, he issued a statement saying that it was part of his life "he bitterly regretted".
Police insisted that they were refusing to rule anything out at this stage. No one has admitted responsibility for any of the attacks. Ikea said it has received no warnings, threats or blackmail attempts.
The Dresden prosecutor, Lorenz Hase, said investigators would be contacting colleagues in the other three countries to try "to find out if we are talking about the same offender or criminal group".
Ikea is one of the world's largest retailers with 283 stores in 26 countries and an estimated 626 million people visiting the chain's shops each year.
Its wealth has led to attacks in the past. In 2004, two Polish men were convicted of planting bombs at Ikea stores in Holland, which injured two bomb disposal experts, and trying to extort €250,000 from the company. Five years later, seven people were arrested for threatening to blow up several Amsterdam businesses, including an Ikea outlet, but were released when the threats turned out to be a prank.
Despite the attacks, Ikea said that it was not prepared to take extra security precautions.
"We already have very high safety standards and we don't have to change anything," said Camilla Meiby, a spokesman at Ikea headquarters in Sweden. (© Daily Telegraph, London)