Thursday, July 07, 2005

Bomb Blasts Rock London Mass Transit System

The following excerpt is from the AP.

"LONDON (AP) - Terror struck in the heart of London on Thursday as explosions ripped through three subway trains and blasted the roof off a crowded red double-decker bus. At least 37 people were killed and more than 700 wounded in the deadliest attack on the city since the blitz in World War II.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair blamed Islamic extremists and said the bombings were designed to coincide with the opening in Scotland of a G-8 summit of the world's most powerful leaders. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the bombings - which came the day after London won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics - have the "hallmarks of an al-Qaida-related attack."

Police said there had been no warning and that the blasts at three subway stations went off within 26 minutes, starting at 8:51 a.m. in an Underground train just outside the financial district. Authorities initially blamed a power surge but realized it was a terror attack after the bus bombing near the British Museum at 9:47 a.m. - less than an hour after the first explosion.

Trapped passengers in the Underground railway threw themselves on the floor, some sobbing. As subway cars quickly filled with smoke, people used their umbrellas to try to break the windows so that they could get air. Passengers emerged from the Underground covered with blood and soot. On the street, in a light rain, buses ferried the wounded, and medics used a hotel as a hospital."

You will note that under Old Glory flies the Union Jack. I urge all of you to add the Union Jack to your blog page. - Sailor

Four and possibly as many as six explosions have rocked London'd mass transit system. Two fatalities have been reported thus far and will likely increase as the chaos subsides. It is reported that two double decker buses were destroyed. Here are some excerpts of the reporting on this developing story.

"Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilized nations throughout the world," said Blair.

A group calling itself "The Secret Organization of al-Qaida in Europe" posted a claim of responsibility for the blasts, saying they were in retaliation for Britain's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Web statement, republished on the site of the German magazine Der Spiegel, could not be immediately confirmed."

While this have not been comfirmed, it would appear that al-Qaeda has become active once again in Europe.

"Sir Ian Blair, London's police chief, said he was concerned the explosions were a coordinated attack but said he wouldn't speculate on who was responsible. He said officials had found indications of explosives at one of the sites.

Police reported "a number of fatalities" at one London subway station. "Things are still relatively confused," Superintendent John Morgan said.

Denying an earlier report, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said that Israel was not warned by Scotland Yard in advance of the blasts.

"We have been at a very high state of alert. Of course if there had been any kind of specific warnings we would have dealt with it," Blair said.

One witness, Darren Hall, said some passengers emerging from an evacuated subway station had soot and blood on their faces. He told BBC TV that he was evacuated along with others near the major King's Cross station and only afterward heard a blast.

Police confirmed an explosion destroyed a double-decker bus at Russell Square in central London.

Paul Woodrow, an official with the ambulance service, told reporters that rescue operations were ongoing and that "there are large numbers of casualties." Officials at the Royal London Hospital told BBC that 95 injured had been brought into that hospital alone."

This appears to be an co-ordinated attack, much like Madrid. Mass transit systems are very soft and vunerable targets. Having grown up in New York City, there has always been the fear that the NYC subway system would be an easy target for terrorists. It was only a few years ago that a plot to explode shrapnel laden bombs there was foiled. This is a developing story, as soon as more details become available I will provide updates. - Sailor


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