OXFORD could always be a potential terrorist target, the city council leader has warned.

Bob Price made the comment after a suspected letter bomb was sent to the Oxford Army careers office and six other military recruitment bases across the country.

The attack in Oxford on Thursday is suspected to be the work of Northern Ireland-related terrorists.

Mr Price said: “We have to be realistic.

“Oxford is a major name in the UK and it is associated with the Government through the fact that so many of its graduates have turned out to be ministers.”

The St Giles recruitment office was open as normal yesterday following the scare which shut off the street for more than two hours while the police and military investigated.

No one has claimed responsibility, but one of the packages was stamped with a Republic of Ireland postmark, and it is believed dissident republicans opposed to the peace process are behind the intimidation attempt.

The bomb scare brought back memories of an IRA threat to the city 20 years ago.

Jonathan Pearson, 55, managing director at Boswells, was among staff told to leave the area when an unexploded pipe bomb was found in the Dillons bookstore in Cornmarket Street in 1995.

He said: “It was a bit close for comfort. It is a shame that after that amount of time that they are going to get back into that sort of thing.”