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Woman arrested for playing 'alarmimg' prank

Written by: Staff
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London, Apr 27 (UNI) A woman claiming to be a performance artist was arrested after her ''nail bomb'' planting prank brought large parts of west London to a standstill.

The objects, later identified as art installations, were left at five locations in Hammersmith and Shepherd's Bush. Roads were blocked by police and traffic ground to a standstill as the authorities sought to deal with what had at first appeared to be a major security alert.

The woman aged 36, later went to a police station in the area and told officers she had strategically planted the ''devices''. She also told officers she was an artist. Some of the packages were cardboard boxes containing soft toys and training shoes with nails sticking out of them.

The alarm they caused disrupted thousands of commuters, who were panicked into thinking they were trapped at the scene of a terror attack on the scale of the 7 July bombings of the Underground network, which claimed the lives of 52 Londoners.

Police rushed bomb squad officers to the scene and threw a large cordon around the area.

Four hours after the alarm was raised at 0800 hrs, at least two of the bizarre installations were still in place. One, in Shepherd's Bush, consisted of three cardboard tubes supporting a polystyrene ''altar'' on which stood some flowers and a note apparently lamenting the loss of one ''Pelagius''. It read: ''Your absence has gone through us like thread through a needle. Everything we do is stitched with its colour.'' Scotland Yard said that shortly after 0800 hrs, officers from Hammersmith and Fulham responded to calls about a number of suspicious packages. The area surrounding each one was cordoned-off while the packages were examined. They were later given the all clear and roads which had been closed were reopened.

Despite the continued presence of two of the suspect objects at lunchtime yesterday, an hour after the alert was raised the Met was able to scale down their response after the woman went to police and claimed responsibility.

A police spokeswoman said: ''Whilst officers were responding to the incidents a 36-year-old woman attended a west London police station. The woman who is from the Shepherd's Bush area and who described herself as an artist was then arrested on suspicion of causing a public nuisance and taken into custody where she remains.'' The attempt at art by the woman was condemned by art experts. Modern art historian Harriet Riches, of Warwick University, said: ''There have been a number of outrageous attempts at art in the past but I cannot think of anything quite on this scale - considering the amount of resources that have been wasted and chaos caused. This was beyond the bounds of common sense.

UNI XC SB VC1729

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