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Also Charged with Bombings at North Atlanta Clinic and Atlanta Nightclub

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Federal authorities today charged Eric Robert Rudolph with the fatal bombing two years ago at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park, as well as the 1997 bombings at an Atlanta area health clinic and a nightclub, the Southeast Bomb Task Force announced.

In a criminal complaint filed today in Atlanta, together with a sealed affidavit, the Justice Department charged that the 32 year old resident of Murphy, North Carolina, was responsible for the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta on July 27, 1996, the double bombing at the Sandy Springs Professional Building in north Atlanta on January 16, 1997, and the double bombing at The Otherside Lounge in Atlanta on February 21, 1997. An arrest warrant was issued today for his arrest on these charges.

Rudolph, who authorities had previously sought for questioning in connection with the three bombings, was charged in February 1998, with the bombing at the New Woman All Women Health Care Clinic in Birmingham, Alabama on January 29. That bomb killed Birmingham police officer Robert Sanderson, and severely injured the clinic's head nurse, Emily Lyons.

"We are going to keep searching until we find him," said Attorney General Janet Reno in an announcement made today at the Justice Department.

Today's criminal complaint charges Rudolph with five counts of malicious use of an explosive in violation of federal law.

The first bombing incident occurred at Centennial Olympic Park, where thousands of visitors had gathered on the ninth day of the 1996 Summer Olympics. The bomb, placed near the main stage in the park, injured more than 100 people, many of them permanently, and killed Alice Hawthorne, a mother who had traveled to Atlanta with her daughter to see the Olympics. A Turkish cameraman, Melih Uzunyol, died of a heart attack responding to the blast.

"The fatal bombing in Atlanta was a terrorist attack aimed at thousands of innocent persons gathered at the Olympic Park," said Louis Freeh, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). "Within the FBI's Domestic Terrorism Program, there is no higher priority than the capture of Eric Robert Rudolph."

The second bombing incident was a double bombing that occurred at the Sandy Springs Professional Building in the Atlanta area in January 1997. The first bomb exploded at the back of the building, which houses the Atlanta Northside Family Planning Service, causing significant damage. The second bomb exploded in the parking lot about one hour later, as medical personnel, firefighters, police and other law enforcement officers worked to secure the scene and evacuate people from the area. Shrapnel from the bomb injured four people, and more than 50 others suffered blast effects.

"This bomber placed secondary bombs designed to kill and maim rescuers, paramedics, firefighters and police officers who rushed to the scene to help," said John W. Magaw, Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). "He didn't care who they were."

Finally, the third bombing incident occurred less than one month after the Sandy Springs bombings, at the Otherside Lounge, a nightclub in Atlanta. In that bombing, five people were injured when a bomb exploded behind the nightclub. A second explosive device was discovered, and the area was cleared, before it exploded. The second device had been placed on the side of the lounge, where medical personnel, firefighters, police and law enforcement agents would respond.

"The action today has special meaning to the citizens of Georgia," said Milton E. Nix, Jr., Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). "Since minutes after the first bomb detonated in Centennial Olympic Park, our State has expended significant resources in this investigation. Georgians have not lost sight of the fact that as a result of the Atlanta bombings an innocent mother was murdered, a Turkish visitor died and numerous others were injured, including public safety personnel who risked their lives to save hundreds of others from more serious injuries."

Since the bombings occurred, agents on the Southeast Bomb Task Force have interviewed thousands of witnesses and traced nearly every component of the bombs. The task force is comprised of the FBI, the ATF, the GBI, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, the Birmingham Police Department and prosecutors from the Justice Department. Additionally, many other state and local law enforcement agencies have assisted the task force in the investigation.

The task force, which has three primary operational locations in Atlanta, Birmingham and Andrews, North Carolina, provides evidence to a team of federal prosecutors from U.S. Attorneys Offices in Birmingham and Atlanta, with support from the Western District of North Carolina.

"The partnership between the many law enforcement personnel and prosecutors working on this case has been a tremendous model of cooperation," said James E. Johnson, Treasury Under Secretary for Enforcement.

Rudolph has been a fugitive since shortly after the Birmingham bombing. Presently, agents are combing the mountainous region of the Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina, where Rudolph is believed to be hiding. Federal authorities have asked hunters, hikers and others going into the area to report any signs of Rudolph, but to avoid contact with him.

"The progress marked by the filing of today's complaint would never have been made without the hard work of all of the agents and prosecutors on the task force," added Reno.

Individuals with any information are encouraged to call the task force at 1-888-ATF-BOMB. There is a reward of up to $500,000 for information leading to a conviction in the case. Additionally, the Justice Department has authorized a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to Rudolph's arrest, and has placed him on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List.

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