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Bomber says next target is police box

Kyodo

A Sapporo-based TV station has received a letter claiming responsibility for a string of recent gas cylinder bombings targeting police and other facilities in Sapporo and threatening to hit a police box next, sources familiar with the investigation said Thursday.

The letter, sent Tuesday to Hokkaido Cultural Broadcasting Co., said that a “koban” (police box) in the prefectural capital is “the next target” of the bomber. Sapporo police are on full alert.

Five gas cylinder bombs have exploded in the city since late January, striking the parking lot of the Kita Ward Police Station, a police dorm and commercial facilities. All took place within a 6-km wide circular area in Kita Ward.

Warning letters were sent to the daily Hokkaido Shimbun and the Kita Ward Police Station in February. Several people received minor injuries when the bombs subsequently went off at commercial facilities.

The most recent letter was addressed to a male newscaster at Hokkaido Cultural Broadcasting and included complaints about the police in Kita Ward and information on the dorm blast on April 3 “that could only be known by someone involved in the case,” an investigator said.

There were no reports of injuries after the dorm explosion, the most recent incident. But police checking the site found the remains of a gas cylinder and some 2,000 nails scattered nearby, plus two other cylinders that had not exploded. Police said they were made by four different companies.

At four of the five locations, investigators also found pink gel “firelighters” for outdoor use near the gas cylinders, plus small cooking briquettes resembling those used at restaurants at three of the four sites.

The police suspect the same person might be involved in the attacks, given some of the letters included complaints about a particular officer.

They said the letters were in envelopes made by the same company. Three — one sent to the newspaper and two to the police station — were printed in Roman letters, while the one at the TV station was handwritten in katakana, they said.