Bomb found at women's clinic


Apr 26, 2007

(CNN) -- An explosive device "which could have caused substantial harm" was found Wednesday in the parking lot of an Austin, Texas, women's clinic where abortions are performed, authorities said.

"It was configured in such a way as to cause serious bodily injury or death," Austin Police Assistant Chief David Carter told reporters Thursday.

An employee reported the suspicious device at the Austin Women's Health Center, and Austin police responded at about 2:15 p.m. The employee also notified the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as per clinic protocol, police said.

Southbound lanes of nearby Interstate 35 were closed as bomb technicians detonated the device, and the clinic, an insurance agency and an apartment building behind the clinic were evacuated.

"[Officials] came in banging on the doors, telling us to get out. I got home from work early today and said, 'Are you serious?' and they starting taping off the area," one resident told News 8 Austin.

After the detonation, "closer examination of the package revealed an unknown powdery substance in the device," police said. Field analysis showed the substance was an explosive powder, but not a biological hazard, authorities said.

Austin police spokesman Kevin Buchman said there are no reports thus far of anyone suspicious in the vicinity at the time the package was found, but said authorities were canvassing the area for potential witnesses.

The clinic does have cameras in its parking lot. Asked whether that might aid police in their investigation, Carter said, "Time will tell."

Carter said the device was in a "carry-all type bag", but Austin police and the FBI would not provide more details on the device and its makeup. The Joint Terrorism Task Force was investigating, Carter said. Authorities were also making contact with other clinics in the city.