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Small explosion in Davos hotel, nobody hurt

MYT 9:03:02 AM

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Left-wing activists claimed responsibility for a small explosion on Thursday that broke windows at a hotel in Davos, close to where top executives and world leaders were meeting, but nobody was hurt.

A police car passes the Post Hotel after a minor explosion during World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 27, 2011. (REUTERS/Vincent Kessler)

Devin Wenig, CEO of Thomson Reuters' Markets division, was in a breakfast meeting of senior executives at the hotel when the explosion happened shortly after 9 a.m. (0800 GMT).

"A huge boom went off. The whole ceiling lifted. Everyone was convinced it was a bomb," he said, adding participants were told that a boiler had exploded. "It took a half hour to reassemble the meeting."

The main programme at the World Economic Forum meeting, addressed by French President Nicholas Sarkozy and former U.S. President Bill Clinton on Thursday, was not affected.

"A small explosion took place in the basement," Swiss prosecutors said in a statement. "Nobody was injured. At no time were the hotel's guests in any danger. The blast did, however, cause some minor damage, including a few broken windows."

A forensic team examined the scene, but prosecutors said they could give no details about the cause of the explosion or its perpetrators and had launched an investigation.

A group calling itself Revolutionary Perspective said in a statement on an activist website it had targeted the luxury Posthotel with a firebomb and said Swiss ministers and representatives of top bank UBS were staying there.

"Our fight against the dictatorship of capital is focused on the social alternative to capitalism: communism," the group said in the statement.

A spokesman for the World Economic Forum (WEF) said police had made two bomb sweeps of the hotel after an online threat.

A few posters criticising the WEF as a club for the rich were stuck up near the main Davos hotels, one reading: "WEF: committed to improving the state of the FEW," a play on the WEF's slogan: "Committed to improving the state of the world".

A protest against the WEF organised by the local Green Party and Social Democrats is due to take place on Saturday.

A spokesman for local police said they had searched the hotel thoroughly but saw no need to increase security because it was already sufficient.

Swiss airspace is closed over Davos and police from all over Switzerland as well as Germany and Liechtenstein are reinforcing the regional force as well as up to 5,000 Swiss soldiers.

The luxury Posthotel is in the heart of Davos village, a few hundred metres (yards) from the WEF congress centre where hundreds of company heads, bankers and politicians are meeting.

On Wednesday, Swiss police evacuated a building and removed a suspicious object in the town St. Gallen, 80 km north of Davos, after a threat from the same group, saying they wanted to target the opening of the WEF meeting.

(Additional reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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