Parcel explosion at IMF’s Paris office wounds employee

Police probe under way after ‘homemade device sent from Greece’ goes off at world lender’s office in French capital.

Police and a soldier block the access to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) offices where an envelope exploded in Paris
A major police operation was under way after the incident [Christian Hartmann/Reuters]

An employee of the International Monetary Fund was injured on Thursday when a booby-trapped parcel exploded at the organisation’s Paris office, according to police.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but later on Thursday Greek officials said they had been informed by French authorities that there was a Greek return address on the envelope.

The explosion was caused by a device that was fairly home-made, “like a big fire cracker … and certainly not in any way a bomb”, Paris police chief Michel Cadot told reporters near the scene of the incident in the centre of the French capital.

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Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler, reporting from Paris, said that the letter was sent by regular post to the head of IMF’s European bureau. Jeffrey Franks, a 24-year veteran of the fund, has been director of the IMF’s Europe office since March 2015, according to its website.

“According to police statements, the letter was opened by the bureau chief’s assistant when it exploded, wounding her face and her eyes,” Butler said.

“Police say she is not in a critical condition but obviously extremely shaken by what happened.”

Butler said IMF staff were evacuated from the building near the Arc de Triomphe and a police operation was under way. Paris anti-terrorism prosecutors opened an investigation.

Police investigators leave IMF offices in central Paris [Christian Hartmann/Reuters]
Police investigators leave IMF offices in central Paris [Christian Hartmann/Reuters]

Later on Thursday, Nikos Toskas, Greece’s public order minister, said the package had been sent from Athens. 

“French authorities just informed us that it was mailed from Greece,” Toskas told Ant1 Television.

The letter listed Vassilis Kikilias, spokesman of the conservative opposition Nea Dimokratia party, as the sender, Toskas said.

On Wednesday, authorities in Germany intercepted a parcel bomb addressed to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

A Greek group called the Conspiracy of Fire Cells claimed responsibility for that earlier on Thursday.

The IMF has been involved in talks between Greece and its international creditors on disbursing new loans to Athens under a bailout programme.

Many in Greece blame the IMF and Germany for imposing years of austerity in exchange for bailout packages.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde said the organisation was “working closely” with French authorities to investigate the incident in Paris.

“I condemn this cowardly act of violence and reaffirm the IMF’s resolve to continue our work in line with our mandate,” Lagarde said.

French President Francois Hollande said authorities would go “all the way” to find those responsible.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies