Friday, March 12, 2004

Die Another Day 

Meanwhile, over in France, there's been another terrorist train drama underway that sounds like a shelved script of a Dennis Hopper film:

France's interior ministry confirmed yesterday [March 3] that the police and security services were on full alert following a series of threats by an unknown group to blow up railway tracks around the country unless it was paid a multimillion-pound ransom.

To prove its threats were serious, the group, which calls itself AZF after a chemical factory which blew up in southern France in September 2001, directed police on February 21 to a time bomb buried under a railway line near Limoges in the south-west.

The story has been simmering for about a month, with the government and AZF playing a cat-and-mouse game involving coded messages in newspapers while trying to maintain a media blackout. So far, mercifully (or ominously, depending on your point of view), additional evidence of bombs has not materialized, despite a massive hunt, and communication from AZF seems to have broken off. One surmises that yesterday's Madrid atrocity has upended the calculus on both sides of this deadly game of chicken.

If the worst happens, I estimate 15 minutes will elapse before wingnut gloating begins.

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