The government ordered a security review of all military bases after an IRA bomb killed one soldier and injured nine at a north London army barracks considered an easy target for a terrorist attack.
Security was reported so lax at Inglis Barracks in suburban Mill Hill that the perimeter fence was riddled with holes and broken traffic barriers were still unrepaired after two months.The barracks houses the Directorate of Defense Postal and Courier Services, where a staff of 250 handles mail for British armed services personnel around the world. It also houses some personnel from the Royal Engineers, the Royal Navy and the Women's Royal Army Corps.
"This was a soft target, and this makes it an extremely cowardly attack," Archie Hamilton, minister of state for the armed forces, said of Monday's blast. "We don't keep the military apart from the community but we will obviously now have to review our security arrangements."
Conservative Party legislator John Gorst, whose parliamentary constituency includes the barracks, said security was appalling.
"With the benefit of hindsight, I think it would be crystal clear that it would be possible to move into this place with impunity and to move around without being challenged," he said.
Monday's 7 a.m. blast, the fifth IRA attack since May against British military targets outside Northern Ireland, knocked down most of a two-story brick dormitory and started a fire.
The 15 men living in the dormitory were still in bed when the explosion tore out the first floor, an army spokesman said. The building can accommodate up to 70 people.
The Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility in a message to the bureau of the British domestic news agency Press Association in Belfast, capital of the strife-torn province.
The mainly Roman Catholic guerrilla movement is fighting to end British rule in Northern Ireland and unite the Protestant-dominated province with the Republic of Ireland under socialist rule.