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London Nail Bombings 1999: Horrifying terrorist attack that left 3 dead and baby boy with nail in his skull

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In 1999 there were a series of bomb explosions that targeted the minority communities of London. These attacks were specifically aimed at the Black, Bangladeshi and LGBT communities – 23-years-on, Londoners still remembers the terrifying incidents.

Known as the London Nail Bombs, the three attacks took place over three consecutive weekends in April. The first took place in Brixton on Saturday, April 17 to target South London’s Black population, a bomb which was made with fireworks and left in a sports bag along with 4-inch nails.

According to reports, the bag had initially been left at Brixton Market before traders became suspicious and moved it to a less crowded area which ended up outside Iceland supermarket. The blast took place 5.26pm and injured 48 people, including a 23-month-old boy who ended up with a nail lodged in his skull.

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A bomb exploded outside Iceland in Brixton, targeting the Black community

The following weekend on Saturday, April 24, a second attack took place which was aimed to be in East London’s Brick Lane. The area is known for its large population of Bangladeshis. But once again, with some luck a passerby noticed the suspicious bag on a pavement and moved it to the boot of a car. As they phoned the police to report it as lost property, the bag exploded in the car, reports BBC News.

It was later found that the terrorist, David Copeland, had intended to place the bag in the midst of Brick Lane’s busy Sunday market – however, he mistakenly thought it was on Saturday. The blast went off at around 6pm that day and left 13 people injured.

A 23-month-old boy was caught in the attack and a nail went through his skull

A 23-month-old boy was caught in the attack and a nail went through his skull

Although 23 years has gone by since the attack, East Londoners still remember that day. MyLondon spoke to Koyer Ahmed who was 17-years-old at the time of the East London attack.

He said: “I was around that day as I live in Tower Hamlets and heard the noise and smoke as I was close by, I can describe the chaos and feelings amongst the community and myself in the aftermath and the weeks going forward, but no one close to me was hurt and thankfully there was no fatality from the bombing.

“I was at college at that time and remember girls being worried about attacks taking place as there was a video shown on a news channel of an armed Combat 18 member giving a date for all coloured people to leave UK or they will start shooting.”

Terrorist David Copeland was sent to prison for the attacks

Terrorist David Copeland was sent to prison for the attacks

Another local said: “I remember this like it was yesterday. Can’t believe that was nearly 23-years-ago. I was nine-years-old and was near there with my dad trying to get a sweet and spicy kebab but it was closed off.”

A week after the attack, a third blast took place on April 30 at The Admiral Duncan Pub in Soho on Old Compton Street. This time the target was the LGBT community. The attack took place in a crowded area due to the start of the Bank Holiday weekend. A bag had been placed inside the pub and exploded at 6.37pm as the pub manager, Mark Taylor was investigating it.

Three people were killed including a 27-year-old pregnant woman, Andrea Dykes, and 79 were left injured. Four people also had to have their limbs amputated due to their injuries.

Nazi posters were found in David Copeland's room

Nazi posters were found in David Copeland’s room

David Copeland who was 22-years-old at the time, was arrested on May 2, 1999, in relation to the attack. He was a Neo-Nazi militant and a former member of two political groups, the British National Party and then the National Socialist Movement – he was convicted of murder and given six life sentences in 2000.

In his confession, Copeland admitted his intentions, he said: “My main intent was to spread fear, resentment and hatred throughout this country; it was to cause a racial war.”

He added: “If you’ve read The Turner Diaries, you know the year 2000 there’ll be the uprising and all that, racial violence on the streets. My aim was political. It was to cause a racial war in this country. There’d be a backlash from the ethnic minorities, then all the white people will go out and vote BNP.”

He was also asked why he had attacked minority groups and he replied: “Because I don’t like them, I want them out of this country, I believe in the master race,” reports BBC.

Unzela Khan, Race and Diversity

Now that you’re here – let me introduce myself.

I am the Race and Diversity Correspondent for MyLondon, and I enjoy writing about stories to do with ethnic minorities.

The stories I’m most proud of are ones where I can get an insight into the experiences of individuals, such as this powerful independent woman who fled Eritrea and ended up opening her own salon in Brixton.

I also love supporting ethnic minority owned businesses and finding out about owners’ own experiences and inspirations behind their menus, for example the story of this Chinese bakery.

My own interests and experiences also weave into my stories so that readers can get an insight into my South Asian heritage, as you can see from this story about Karak Chai which I’m ever so passionate about!

Although I was born and raised in London, I would say I’m very connected to my own culture as a British Pakistani who is fluent in Urdu.

This year I became a finalist for the British Muslim Awards in the Media Achiever of the Year category – and I hope to make a difference every single year with my work.

Got a story? If so, get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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