A bomb severely damaged the U. S. Capitol Building early Monday after an anonymous caller predicted an explosion "in protest of the Nixon involvement in Laos."
No one was injured in the blast, which occurred on the floor below the Senate chambers. The explosion caused an unestimated amount of damage to a washroom, the Senate barbershop and adjoining offices.
Reacting to the explosion, President Nixon said "the violence people" are trying to force the closing of public buildings. "It won't work," he said, in a statement calling for increased security measures.
Congressmen of both parties immediately condemned the incident. "Anyone who would plant a bomb like that anyplace . . . has to be a revolutionary or completely mad," Sen. Harold Hughes, (D-Iowa), said. Sen. George McGovern, (D-S. D.) called it "tragic" and "barbaric."
Police said that the device could have been set any time before the Capitol was closed at 5 p. m. Sunday. The men's room, where the bomb was left, was open to the public. Although a Capitol policeman inspected the room shortly before the warning phone call, he found nothing out of order.
Three witnesses noticed a young woman hiding behind a truck outside the Capitol as the explosion went off, the police said. She reportedly got into a car with three other passengers and drove off.
Not since the British burned the Capitol in 1814 during the War of 1812 has the Capitol suffered this much damage. The Capitol was last bombed in 1915, when a young man opposed to U. S. arms sales to World War I allies planted a bomb that damaged the Senate reception room.