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One killed in Paris parcel bomb blast

PARIS (Reuters) - A parcel bomb killed a legal secretary and injured five other people on Thursday in a central Paris building housing a law firm partly owned by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

A secretary in the Gouet-Jenselme law practice died and lawyer Olivier Brane was rushed to hospital with serious injuries, officials said.

The parcel had been addressed to Brane, they said. Sarkozy, a former lawyer, retains a 30 percent stake in the Arnaud Claude and Associates firm which shares the building.

Paris public prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin said the explosion had no link to Sarkozy.

Marin said two devices were delivered in the same parcel and exploded shortly before 1 p.m. (12p.m. British time) when the package was opened. The person delivering the parcel had worn a helmet and had not been identified.

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The Gouet-Jenselme practice specialises in divorce, insurance and real estate cases.

“It seems the lawyers’ practice is mystified by this incident,” Marin said. Four other people were injured, apart from Brane, police said, and 10 suffered shock.

A dozen police vans, military personnel and several fire trucks lined the streets near the building in western Paris, a Reuters reporter said. A large area around the lawyers’ offices was cordoned off.

“We don’t know the reasons for the attack. We only know Mr Brane’s practice is on the fourth floor and that the door opposite is that of the Shoah Foundation,” Christian Charriere-Bournazel, the future head of the Paris bar association, told reporters.

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The foundation is dedicated to the remembrance of the Holocaust. French Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld, who visited the scene, told reporters he did not think the foundation had been the target. “There has never been a threat,” he said.

French Interior Minister Alliot-Marie said in a statement she would return from a trip to Brussels and visit the site of the explosion. She condemned “this cowardly and odious act with the utmost firmness”.

“It is a criminal act,” Paris’s Mayor Bertrand Delanoe told reporters near the lawyers’ offices, which are located on a street housing both residential apartments and office buildings.

Additional reporting by Swaha Pattanaik, Jean-Baptiste Vey, Writing by Kerstin Gehmlich; editing by Jon Boyle and Robert Woodward