What happened when the IRA bombed Manchester Arndale in 1996 and why was the shopping centre targeted?

What happened when the IRA bombed Manchester Arndale in 1996 and why was the shopping centre targeted?

- in Uk News

MANCHESTER city centre was devastated when the UK mainland’s biggest bomb since World War II was detonated outside the Arndale Centre in June 1996.

Around 212 people were injured, luckily there were no fatalities. Here’s all you need to know on the attack…

Arndale bombing
More than 200 people were injured by the IRA’s 3,300lb lorry bomb outside the Arndale Centre in Manchester
PA:Press Association

What happened when the IRA bombed Manchester Arndale in 1996?

A white Ford Cargo lorry containing at least 3,300lbs of semtex and fertiliser explosives – one and a half tons – was parked on double yellow lines outside Marks and Spencer on Corporation Street at 9.20am on June 15.

CCTV showed two men in hooded jackets walking away, and a short time later a traffic warden slapping a ticket on the windscreen.

Shortly before 10am Gary Hall, a security guard at Granada Studios on the other side of the city, received a call from man with a “very calm” Irish voice who warned a bomb would explode an hour later.

Police began evacuating 80,000 people from the city centre and set up a cordon while searching for the bomb.

Officers noticed wires running from the lorry’s dashboard and through the back.

Hundreds of cops drafted in to control football crowds got to work moving shoppers back behind an expanding exclusion zone which eventually stretched for a quarter of a mile in all directions from the lorry.

Bomb disposal experts arrived at 10.46am and used a robot to investigate the device – but they ran out of time.

At 11.17am the bomb went off, sending up a 1,000ft mushroom cloud that dwarfed the 23-storey Arndale House nearby.

Buildings were shaken by the huge blast and glass and masonry rained down on people outside the cordon up to half a mile away.

The explosion could be heard 15 miles away and left a crater 50ft wide.

Arndale bombing
Devastated Corporation Street in Manchester after the bomb was detonated outside Marks and Spencer on June 15, 1996
Arndale bombing
Shops and offices were destroyed and people half a mile away were showered with glass and masonry

Why was the shopping centre targeted?

Some 212 people were injured by debris from the blast and some victims suffered lasting trauma.

The Provisional IRA had been targeting mainland Britain throughout the 1980s and early 90s, with the aim of bringing about a united Ireland.

Other recent deadly attacks included a car bomb in the Baltic Exchange in London in April 1992 that killed three and wounded 91 and twin bombings in Manchester that wounded 65 in December 1992.

Two boys – Johnathan Ball, three, and 12-year-old Tim Parry – were killed by bombs planted in two litter bins in Warrington in March 1993.

Deadly truck bombings followed in London’s Bishopsgate in April 1993 and Docklands in February 1996.

Five days before the Arndale attack, peace negotiations had begun in Belfast – but excluded Sinn Fein because the IRA had refused to disarm.

The target was chosen because it would inflict huge disruption and damage the regions’s economy and infrastructure.

However the devastation has been credited with kickstarting the regeneration of Manchester that has seen the city booming in recent years as a centre of commerce and the arts.

Two years after the Arndale bombing the Provisional IRA and other paramilitary groups agreed to disarm under the Good Friday Agreement.


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