Two homemade hand grenades exploded at the Mexican Consulate in New York this morning, police sources said, in an incident that bore striking similarities to a pre-dawn attack on the British Consulate in New York on May 5, 2005.
Officials and ABC sources gave this account:
At about 3:50 this morning, two homemade explosive devices were thrown at the Mexican Consulate on East 39th Street in Manhattan. Residents later reported to police that they heard "loud explosions" at that time.
However, the incident was not immediately reported to police.
When police did arrive -- apparently before 7:00 a.m. -- they found fragments of the devices, and some minor damage to the consulate's exterior.
"An Initial investigation of the scene determined that at approximately 03:50 hrs on Friday 10-26-07 two training grenades that were hollowed out and filled with gun powder were thrown over the fence of the location and detonated cauing three windows to break" according to a police statment.
The devices were described as "identical" or "very similar" to the two thrown at the British Consulate. In that incident the devices were also thrown shortly before 4:00 in the morning.
No one was ever caught in that incident, despite an extensive international police search that included tracking down internet purchases of a novelty hand grenade which fit with other elements of the case. A video was released after the incident in an effort to help identify the suspect. It showed a man bicycling away from the consulate after the grenades exploded. It also showed the suspect apparently "casing" the block outside the embassy before lighting the "hobby fuses" and throwing his grenades.
In that case, the grenades were improvised from inert novelty devices. The suspect removed the top of the grenades, filled them with explosive powder, inserted fuses of the kind found in large, M-80-like fireworks and sealed them.
The devices in this case appear to be similar, based on a preliminary analysis.
While it is too early to say if the same person committed both attacks, it is one path of the police investigation.
Police are examining video from a number of surveillance cameras at and near the embassy.
Mexico issued the following statement:
The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs forcefully condemns the attack that the Mexican General Consulate in New York was subjected to today.
The consulate headquarters had to be evacuated early in morning after three windows at the front of the building were broken.
Consulate staff reported the events to the New York Police Department Police, who sealed off the area and started investigations to determine the reasons behind the incident, such as the nature of the device that caused the damages.
The Mexican representatives did not suffer any damage due to the incident that occurred at 04:20 (09:20 GMT) this morning, and await news regarding the investigation from local police authorities.
The consulate headquarters will remain closed until investigative authorities determine it safe to return to work.