UK officials deny 'Yemen bomb defused 17 minutes before scheduled explosion'

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London, Nov 5 (ANI): The claim by French interior minister Brice Hortefeux that one of the two mail bombs sent from Yemen was defused 17 minutes before it was set to explode, has been denied today by officials familiar with the investigation.

Hortefeux, however, provided no other details in an interview on France's state-run France-2 television, and did not even mention the source of his information.

According to the Guardian, officials investigating the bomb found at East Midlands airport poured cold water on his remarks. One said: "There is nothing to support that."

When investigators took the Chicago-bound packages off cargo planes at East Midlands and in the United Arab Emirates on Friday, they reportedly found the bombs wired to mobile phones and hidden in the toner cartridges of computer printers.

Officials further said that forensic examination of the device found on a UPS cargo plane at East Midlands is being conducted at the defence science and technology laboratory at Fort Halstead in Kent.

Both the bomb on the UPS plane and the one found on a Fedex cargo plane at Dubai earlier were wired to circuit boards from mobile phones that did not contain the SIM cards needed to receive calls.

The phones were supposed to be used as timers, and most experts believe that the perpetrators' intention was that the bombs would explode over the US, they added.

Chris Yates, a British aviation security consultant, said that nothing suspicious had appeared after the initial police search at East Midlands airport.

"A call from Dubai provided more information about how to identify the bomb", he added.

The bomb was attached to a syringe containing lead azide, a chemical initiator that would have detonated the PETN explosive packed into each printer cartridge, the report said.

Officials have centred their investigation on the Yemeni al-Qaida faction's leading bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, who had designed the airliner bomb.

The two bombs reportedly contained 300g and 400g of PETN. One of the explosive devices found inside a shipped printer cartridge in Dubai had been flown on two airliners before it was seized - first on a Qatar Airways Airbus A320 jet to Doha and then on an as yet undisclosed flight from Doha to Dubai. (ANI)

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