London bombing was precise attack

Three bombs that spread carnage in packed London underground trains exploded almost simultaneously at 8.50am local time, police said on Saturday, revealing a chillingly precise attack by suspected al-Qaeda fanatics.

“It would appear now that all three bombs on the London underground system actually exploded within seconds of each other,” Commander Brian Paddick of the London metropolitan police said.

“In fact, the three bombs exploded almost simultaneously,” he told a news conference.

Poring over the data and witness accounts, London police discovered the blasts on Thursday went off within 50 seconds of each other, not the 26 minutes they had originally estimated based on incoming calls.

A fourth bomb that blew the top off a double-decker bus was detonated an hour later at 9.47am, they said.

The devices were all powered with a high explosive, police said.

Blogs on London bomb attacks
South African bloggers in London write about their experiences on M&G Online Blogspot…

Amanda K’s blog
“My boyfriend was in Liverpool Street for meetings at 9 am yesterday and I just thank God that we overslept that extra 20 mins because I feel sick thinking about what if?”

Camilla Greene’s blog
“I could see what was going through everyone’s minds, it was going through mine too. Did I really want to get on?”

Kathy Sandler’s blog
“We’re all just getting on with it. Talking about how we got home yesterday, got in to work this morning, how many people died, whether to sit on the top or bottom deck of a bus…”

Indressa’s blog
“I get the feeling that Londoners are not as surprised or shocked as they should be… As if they’ve been expecting it to happen sooner or later.”

“All we are saying is that it is high explosives. That would tend to suggest that it is not home-made explosive,” Paddick said. “Whether it is military explosive, whether it is commercial explosive, whether it is plastic explosive we do not want to say at this stage.

“Clearly there are some things that we will tell you; there are other things which are crucial to the investigation and the interrogation of people subsequently that we would not want to give out.”

The bombings—the deadliest terror attack in British history—killed more than 50 people and wounded more than 700 people.

An unknown number of bodies lie out of reach in crumpled carriages on the Piccadilly line, where the single worst blast killed at least 21 people between the city’s Russell Square and King’s Cross stations.

“We do not know how many people are left in the carriages,” Paddick said. “It is hot, dusty and quite dangerous.”

Andy Trotter, deputy chief constable of the London transport police, said the search for bodies below ground had resumed after being suspended overnight because of the precarious conditions.

“It is extremely hot, very dusty and it is a great challenge for them to continue their work to recover the remaining bodies from the train underground,” Trotter said.

“This work will be slow, methodical and meticulous and at the same time the forensic recovery teams are working alongside them in order to ensure that no clues are lost,” he added. “It will be some time before this job is completed.”

People waiting for missing loved ones have flooded police with 120 000 calls, police said.

Al-Qaeda-linked claim of responsibility

A group linked to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network has claimed responsibility for the blasts.

“A group of Mujahedin from a division of the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades piled blow after blow on the infidel capital, the British capital, leaving dead and injured,” it said in an internet statement.

The Masri division congratulated itself on “this laudable conquest” and warned that more attacks will follow.

The statement’s authenticity could not be verified.

Shortly after Thursday’s attacks, a separate statement also claiming responsibility was posted in the name of the “al-Qaeda Organisation—Jihad in Europe”.

Investigators have yet to name any suspects, but British newspapers on Saturday said police had asked European counterparts for information on Moroccan cleric Mohammed al Garbuzi, who lived in Britain for 16 years before vanishing from his north London home last year.

As well as examining forensic evidence, a key part of the police investigation is likely to be the painstaking examination of hours of security-camera footage.

In an interview with BBC radio, British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned that such attacks could most likely never be stopped by security measures alone.

“Probably with this type of terrorism, the solution cannot only be the security measures,” Blair said. “The underlying issues have to be dealt with too”.

Much like in New York after the September 11 2001 attacks, hand-written posters have sprung up at train stations as relatives appeal desperately for information.

For many British newspapers, 20-year-old Shahara Islam has become a representative face of London’s lost.

The Londoner, a Muslim of Bangladeshi origin, took an underground train to her job in a bank on Thursday morning but never arrived.

“It seems an unspeakably cruel fate for a young woman who could have been a poster girl for British Muslims today,” The Independent said.

Amid the sorrow there was also defiance.

Flowers commemorating the dead were laid around the affected stations, along with hand-written notes mourning the city’s loss and vowing the bombers will not shake London’s resolve to continue as before.

“You think you will defeat us?” one at King’s Cross station asked of the bombers.

“Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London. I’ll show you something to make you change your mind,” the handwritten note continued, quoting a famous ode to the city by British folk singer Ralph McTell.—Sapa-AFP



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