a voice from london...

Thought I would pass on some words from London. A workmate of mine until just last friday, Tim, returned to London (his home) over the weekend. Of course we were all quite concerned when the events occurred this morning, but he is just fine, and I think he offers some interesting insights into what Londoners are thinking about this.


"Just to let all at FPRI know that I am well. I was quite close to the events, however, as I was at the US embassy sorting out a new visa at 8.30 when the explosions went off. I am safely back at home now, although a 45 min journey home took about 5 hours and a great deal of walking! Unfortunately a day of work was lost at my end - I'll try and make it up this weekend.
It appears Al Qaeda was behind it, but we're still waiting for confirmation. I think the British people, especially Londoners, will show a great deal of resolve. As I wandered through central London people, although dazed and confused, were carrying on quietly and stoically. They will be back at work tomorrow, I'm sure.
I noticed that Chirac and Bush flanked Blair when he made a statement this morning. The heat will no doubt be taken out of the G8 summit, although hopefully not at the expense of light. Europe may look to Blair still further. The Weaver vision may yet be realized... "


It's so unfortunate that this had to happen in just enough time to distract from the G8, and distract those participating in the G8... although I'm sure the that timing was picked for the very reason that it would be a distraction and a heartbreak and have as big an influence as possible.
There have been way too many terrorist acts in the pass 3 years... it's such a helpless feeling, and all I can keep thinking is can we stop these people? Why can't we catch them? 9/11, Madrid, now London. Where will be next?


37 confirmed dead in London blasts
At least 700 hurt, 45 seriously; Blair blames Islamic terrorists

LONDON - Four blasts rocked the London subway and tore open a packed double-decker bus during the morning rush hour Thursday, sending bloodied victims fleeing in the worst attack on London since World War II.

Thirty-seven people were confirmed killed, and more than 700 were wounded in the terror attacks, which a shaken Prime Minister Tony Blair called “barbaric” and blamed on Islamic militants.

“We know that these people act in the name of Islam, but we also know that the vast and overwhelming majority of Muslims both here and abroad are decent and law abiding people who abhor this kind of terrorism every bit as much as we do,” Blair said.

Witnesses described horrific scenes. “It was chaos,” said Gary Lewis, who was evacuated from a subway train at King’s Cross station. “The one haunting image was someone whose face was totally black and pouring with blood.”

The blasts coincided with the Group of Eight summit in Scotland and came a day after London won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

A group calling itself The Secret Organization of al-Qaida in Europe claimed responsibility but officials could not verify the claim and no arrests have been made.

Blair did not provide specifics about who was responsible, but British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the bombings have the “hallmarks of an al-Qaida-related attack.”

'Remain vigilant'
The four explosions went off within an hour, beginning at 8:51 a.m. local time, and hit three subway stations and the double-decker bus. Authorities immediately shut down the subway and bus lines that log 8.4 million passenger trips every weekday.

The bus explosion seemed to go off at the back, said bystander Raj Mattoo. “The roof flew off and went up about 10 meters (30 feet). It then floated back down,” he said. “There were obviously people badly injured. A parking attendant said he thought a piece of human flesh had landed on his arm.”

As the city’s transportation system ground to a near-halt, buses were used as ambulances and an emergency medical station was set up at a hotel. Rescue workers, police and ordinary citizens streamed into the streets to help.

Doctors from the nearby British Medical Association rushed into the street to treat the wounded from the bus. “The front of BMA house was completely splattered with blood and not much of the bus was left,” said Dr. Laurence Buckman.

Some central London streets emptied of traffic. Groups of commuters who had been on their way to work gathered around corner shops with televisions, watching in silence. The mood was somber and subdued.

"The public need to remain vigilant," Andy Trotter of the Transport Police said. "This is an incredibly challenging time for London. We don't know if this is over yet."

At the request of Queen Elizabeth II, the Union Jack flag flying over Buckingham Palace was lowered to half staff.

'We shall prevail'
Blair, flanked by fellow G-8 leaders, including President Bush, read a statement from the leaders. “We shall prevail and they shall not,” he said.

“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,” he said earlier.

He departed by helicopter back to London. The world leaders continued meeting but their agenda got sidetracked and they decided to delay declarations on climate change and the global economy.

Bush warned Americans to be “extra vigilant,” and his administration raised the terror alert for mass transit a notch to code orange. Security also was stepped up in the U.S. Capitol and in train and bus stations around the country.

Much of Europe also went on alert. Italy’s airports raised alert levels to a maximum. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia, the Netherlands, France and Spain also announced beefed-up security at shopping centers, airports, railways and subways.

Claim of responsibility
A group calling itself “The Secret Organization of al-Qaida in Europe” posted a claim of responsibility, saying the blasts were in retaliation for Britain’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The statement also threatened attacks in Italy and Denmark, both of which have troops in Iraq. It was published on a Web site popular with Islamic militants, and the text was republished on Elaph, a secular Arabic-language news Web site, and Berlin’s Der Spiegel magazine.

The authenticity of the statement could not be immediately confirmed, but terrorism experts said the coordinated explosions had the trademarks of the al-Qaida network.

“This is clearly an al-Qaida style attack. It was well-coordinated, it was timed for a political event and it was a multiple attack on a transportation system at rush hour,” said Lawrence Freedman, professor of war studies at King’s College in London.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick said there had been no arrests, and it was unclear whether suicide bombers were involved.

Asked about the claim of responsibility, Paddick said: “We will be looking at that ... at the moment we don’t know if that’s a legitimate claim or not.” He added British officials had received no prior warning nor did they have any advance intelligence that the attacks would occur.

The attacks recalled the 2004 train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 and were blamed on al-Qaida.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission warned London Muslims to stay at home to avoid any violence aimed at them.

Casualty numbers
Three U.S. law enforcement officials said at least 40 people were killed. They spoke on condition of anonymity and said they learned of the number from their British counterparts.

In London, Paddick said at least 33 people killed in the subway system alone. He confirmed other deaths on the bus but gave no figures. The death toll was later raised to 37.

Buckman, the London doctor, said ambulance staff told him about 10 people died in the bus blast. BMA doctors treated about nine seriously wounded people in the building's courtyard, two of whom later died, he said.

Police put the number of wounded at more than 700, nearly double early reports. Among them, at least 45 were in serious or critical condition, including amputations, fractures and burns, said Russell Smith of London Ambulance Service.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone said the blasts were “mass murder” carried out by terrorists bent on “indiscriminate ... slaughter.”

“This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty or the powerful ... it was aimed at ordinary working-class Londoners,” said Livingstone, in Singapore where he supported London’s Olympic bid. Giselle Davies, an International Olympic Committee spokeswoman, said the committee still had “full confidence” in London.

Timeline of attacks
Deputy Assistant Police Commissioner Brian Paddick said the first explosion, at 8:51 a.m. local time, hit a London Underground train that was 100 yards into a tunnel outside Moorgate station in the financial district in east London. Seven people died there, he said.

The second blast, at 8:56 a.m., was in the King's Cross station area of north London, and killed 21, Paddick said.

The third explosion, at 9:17 a.m., was near the Edgware station and killed seven people.

The bus explosion occurred at 9:47 a.m. At least two people were killed there.

Jay Kumar, a business owner near the site of the bus blast at Tavistock Square in central London, said he ran out of his shop when he heard a loud explosion. He said the bus’s top deck collapsed, sending people tumbling to the floor.

Many appeared badly injured, and bloodied people ran from the scene. “People were running this way panicked," he said. "They knew it was a bomb. Debris flying all over, mostly glass.”

Office worker Kibir Chibber said at one subway station that “I saw lots of people coming out covered in blood and soot. Black smoke was coming from the station. I saw several people laid out on sheets.”

Simon Corvett, on an eastbound train from Edgware Road station, described “this massive huge bang ... It was absolutely deafening and all the windows shattered.”

“You could see the carriage opposite was completely gutted,” he said. “There were some people in real trouble.”

Evening commute a mess
British Home Secretary Charles Clarke said efforts would be made to resume underground and bus operations as soon as possible but gave no indication of when that might be.

“People are strongly advised not to travel into central London as the emergency services must be allowed to do their work in the most effective way they can,” he said.

Most of the transit system still had not restarted by the evening rush hour, forcing tens of thousands to find alternative ways home.

Thomas Carr, a 63-year-old electrician who faced a two-hour walk home, said he would keep using the underground.

"It won't put me off using the Tube," he said. "You can't let them beat you."

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