Blast at British base in Cyprus injures police officer


Nicosia (AFP)

A small explosion outside a police station at a British base in Cyprus injured a policeman on Tuesday, authorities said, adding that it was being treated as a criminal incident.

The incident took place in the early hours of Tuesday on the Dhekelia British military base near the southern coastal town of Larnaca.

"There was an explosion at around 3:10 in the morning outside the entrance to the police station, a police officer suffered minor cuts," British Forces Cyprus spokesman Kristian Gray told AFP.

"The building suffered no structural damage, just a broken window," he added.

The British military ruled out a terrorism connection, saying "this is being treated as a criminal incident".

The scene was cordoned off as investigations were carried out.

An official source told AFP that the blast was caused by someone throwing a grenade over the perimeter fence while riding on a motorcycle.

There was speculation that the incident could be related to illegal bird trapping, with base police involved in a recent crackdown.

One informed source said the blast came after the court delivered "hefty fines to illegal bird trappers".

More than two million migratory birds are slaughtered each year on Cyprus due to the illicit but lucrative trade.

The birds are served secretly at restaurants on the island as a traditional dish called ambelopoulia.

Britain retains sovereignty over some 99 square kilometres (38 square miles) of territory on Cyprus, which was ruled by the British until 1960.

There are over 7,000 military personnel and dependents stationed on Cyprus while 1,300 locals are employed by the Bases. Thousands of Cypriots also live inside territory controlled by the bases administration.