HC Deb 06 April 1955 vol 539 cc98-101W
69. Wing Commander Hulbert

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will give an estimate of the damage to Government property in Cyprus as a result of the explosions which took place there on the 31st March and 1st April.

73. Mr. Alport

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement regarding the latest terrorist incidents in Cyprus.

Mrs. Jeger

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement regarding recent disturbances in Cyprus.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

In the early hours of last Friday, attacks were made simultaneously with explosives on a number of public buildings and installations in the principal towns in Cyprus. The most serious of these was an attack on the Cyprus Broadcasting Station, near Nicosia, when four masked men overpowered the night watchmen, and then exploded dynamite under the wall of the building, causing much damage and setting it on fire.

At about the same time, a number of explosions causing minor damage occurred at the Government Secretariat offices, at the Education Department, and at the Wolseley Barracks in Nicosia; and in Larnaca and Limassol explosions occurred at police stations. An attempt to dynamite an ordnance depot at Famagusta was foiled by the guards, and an attempt to set fire to a petrol depot at Dhekelia was similarly unsuccessful. Some damage was caused to an electric generator at the cantonment at Episkopi.

On the four following nights, there were attacks by bombs or grenades on houses occupied by Service personnel in Nicosia and Limassol, and on a bus operated by a company which is under contract to Service Departments. Some damage was caused, and a police constable and the wife of an army officer were slightly injured.

There has been no loss of life from these incidents, although the body of a man was found electrocuted near an electric power line in circumstances which suggest that he was attempting to sabotage the line. The damage to Cyprus Government property from the first night's incidents is estimated to be about £56,000, most of which was to the broadcasting equipment.

Twenty-one arrests have been made; and a dump of sabotage material has been discovered by the police. Cyclostyled pamphlets by a body calling itself the National Organisation of Cyprus Struggle have been found at various places where incidents occurred, and other supplies of these pamphlets have been seized from suspected persons. A form of oath administered by this group to students has come into the possession of the police.

Measures taken by the Cyprus Government include the provision of mobile police patrols in the towns at night, the mounting of military guards at a number of points, road and traffic checks by the police, the increased use of special constabulary, and the increase of protective staff at certain installations.

I am sure that the House will join with me in expressing the strongest condemnation of these wicked and malicious activities by a group of criminals who have attempted to disrupt in this way public order in Cyprus. It is indeed fortunate that no loss of life has occurred.

The Turkish community of Cyprus has condemned these acts of violence; so too have Communist leaders. It is to be hoped that the archbishop and other leaders of the Greek community in Cyprus will add their voices to those who condemn these acts, for I cannot but believe that the vast majority of people in Cyprus view them with detestation.

76. Mr. Patrick Maitland

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in view of the sabotage that has taken place in the Cyprus broadcasting service, what steps have been taken to provide alternative broadcasting facilities to ensure that the people of Cyprus can, without interruption, be supplied with factual news.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The Cyprus Broadcasting Station resumed a limited service less than 12 hours after the sabotage, using a low-power transmitter. As this had only a limited range it was arranged with the Forces Broadcasting Service in Cyprus to re-broadcast Greek and Turkish bulletins every evening to the island as a whole. A new transmitter is being flown to Cyprus from this country this week, and experts are also being flown out to advise on installation. It should be possible for the full service to be resumed within a few weeks.