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British government was informed of bomb find


London : The British government was informed early Friday of the discovery of a suspected car bomb in the centre of London, Justice Secretary Jack Straw said.

"Sadly, in the world we live in, these things happen," Straw told the BBC in an interview. "The government was told much earlier," added Straw in a comment on the news just made public.

Earlier, Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism unit launched an investigation following the discovery of a suspected bomb in a parked car in Haymarket, in the heart of London.

Officers carried out a "controlled explosion," as parts of the area near Piccadilly Circus were cordoned off, causing major disruption.

London's theatre district and the shopping areas of Regent Street and Piccadilly are near Haymarket. The Underground station at Piccadilly was closed as a result.

Anti-terrorism officers were called to investigate a "suspicious vehicle" at around 2 am (0100 GMT).

There had been no warning, and no arrests had been made.

The size of the "potentially viable explosive device" was also not known.

It was also not clear whether the device was "being transported" to another location or ready to be exploded where it was found.

The timing of the discovery could be linked to the change of government in Britain this week, commentators said.

It comes just days before the second anniversary of the suicide attacks on London's transport system on July 7, 2005, in which 52 people died and more than 700 were injured.

Sentencing in the trial of four suspects accused of having planned a follow-up attack on Tubes and buses in London two weeks later, on July 21, 2005, is expected in the next few days.