50 dead, 700 hurt in rush-hour bomb attacks

7th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

8 July 2005, LONDON — Scotland Yard now says more than 50 people have been killed and 700 injured in the terrorist attacks on the Underground network and a double-decker bus in London.

8 July 2005

LONDON — Scotland Yard now says more than 50 people have been killed and 700 injured in the terrorist attacks on the Underground network and a double-decker bus in London.

As a massive hunt for the Islamic terrorists believed to be behind the attacks got underway, the death toll rose to 55, police said.

UK home Secretary Charles Clarke said looking for potential bombers was like searching for "needles in haystacks".

The Queen and Prince Charles are visiting casualties, while Tony Blair prepares for the G8 summit's last day.

Transport operators ran a near-normal service on the Tube on most lines, but there were fewer commuters than usual.

Of the 300 people admitted to hospital on Thursday, about 80 remain, either convalescing after emergency surgery or too badly burned to return home.

Clarke said a claim on the website of a previously unknown group, the Secret Organisation Group of al-Qaeda of Jihad Organisation in Europe, saying it was behind the blast, was being taken seriously.

Scotland Yard have confirmed seven people died in the Liverpool Street explosion and another seven were killed at Edgware Road. At least 21 lost their lives at the King's Cross blast.

Police have been unable to establish whether a suicide bomber was responsible for the attack on a bus in Woburn Place that claimed at least two lives.

But newspapers quoted an eyewitness who got off the bus moments before the blast who saw an agitated man in his mid-20s fiddling with his bag.

Richard Jones, 61, an IT consultant, told the British daily The Daily Mail: "This chap started dipping down into his bag and getting back up. He did it about a dozen times in two or three minutes and looked extremely agitated."

The nature of the other three bombings is still unclear.

Mr Clarke has said the death toll is expected to rise. Police are likely to release more details about casualties and the hunt for the bombers later.

They have indicated there will be a more visible police presence in the capital on Friday.

The home secretary said the failure to predict Thursday's bombs should not obscure past successes.

But he admitted: "It certainly was a failure of intelligence in the sense that we didn't know this was coming.

"But by definition when you're looking for needles in haystacks you can miss the needles and the tragedy of yesterday is that we did miss the needles."

Police have said they had no warning of any attacks, or intelligence about any other imminent threats.

And the home secretary defended the recent downgrading of the terrorism threat from severe general to substantial.

Foreign secretary Jack Straw said Thursday's attacks bore all the hallmarks of the al-Qaeda network.

Anyone worried about relatives or friends they have not heard from is advised to contact a special police hotline on 0870 156 6344.

London was starting to return to normal on Friday, with much of the transport system running as normal.

Buses are expected to operate normally, except around the immediate areas where the explosions took place.

Transport officials have urged passengers to remain vigilant and keep hold of their baggage at all times.

The prime minister, who left the G8 summit to meet police and security officials in London after the attacks, is due to get back to business with other world leaders later.

Spanish commentators saw a close resemblance between the London explosions and the Madrid train bombings nearly 16 months earlier.

On 11 March, 2004, terrorists planted bombs hidden in bags on four commuter
trains in the Madrid region, blowing them up almost simultaneously during the rush hour. Spain's biggest terrorist attacks killed 191 and injured more than 1,500 people.

Jose Maria Aznar's conservative government first attributed the attacks to the Basque separatist group ETA, prompting suspicions that it was trying to head off an election defeat knowing that many voters would attribute an Islamist attack to its participation in the Iraq conflict.

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Subject: Spanish news

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