London remembers 7/7 victims

2006-07-07 11:10
<b>London mayor Ken Livingstone and culture secretary Tessa Jowell arrive to lay flower tributes at King's Cross Station in remembrance of those killed in last year's bombings. (Sang Tan, AP)</b>

London mayor Ken Livingstone and culture secretary Tessa Jowell arrive to lay flower tributes at King's Cross Station in remembrance of those killed in last year's bombings. (Sang Tan, AP)

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London - Britain marked the first anniversary of the London terror attacks on Friday with two minutes of silence, a candle-lighting service and flowers at the subway stations and public square where 52 commuters were killed in Western Europe's first suicide bombings.

Police helicopters hovered overhead as London Mayor Ken Livingstone placed a wreath of flowers outside King's Cross station - where the four attackers separated before detonating their bombs - at 08:50, the moment three of the explosions went off on July 7, 2005.

Relatives of those who died were invited to attend an evening ceremony in Regent's Park, where the names of the dead were to be read aloud.

"I was up early today and I looked out of the window and I thought that this time last year the bombers were on their way. It was eerie," said Peter Sanders, staff manager at King's Cross, who recalled people emerging from the Underground "blackened by soot and looking scared."

Another ceremony was being held in Tavistock Square, where a No. 30 bus was torn apart.

Video released

A chilling video of one of the bombers promising more terror was broadcast on the eve of the anniversary by al-Jazeera. It was unclear how the video was obtained or how soon it was made before the attacks.

"What you have witnessed now is only the beginning of a series of attacks that will continue and increase in strength," said Shehzad Tanweer, 22, whose backpack bomb killed six people and himself aboard a Circle Line subway in east London.

The fear isn't gone

A year after the attacks, life in the capital has returned to normal - almost.

London's sweaty subway cars are as jam-packed as ever and the red double-decker buses still roll through the capital crowded with commuters and photo-snapping tourists.

But the fear isn't gone, only covered over by a veneer of calm, an uneasy sense of normality that could be shattered by another attack.

Memories of the ordinary Thursday morning commute that turned horrific are never far from the surface. And the attacks, which killed 52 commuters plus the four bombers, have changed Britain in ways large and small.

Muslim community feel targeted

News that the young attackers were all born or raised in Britain stunned many and strained ties between the country's large Muslim community and the wider population.

Many British Muslims feel they're targets for suspicion; rights activists fear new anti-terror powers threaten civil liberties; and two mistaken shootings by officers have undermined public trust in the police.

Within days of the bombings, detectives identified those they believed responsible - four young men dead in the wreckage with their victims. Three were of Pakistani descent and lived in and around the northern English city of Leeds. The fourth was a Jamaican immigrant who settled northwest of London.

Failed bombing attempts

But a year later, police don't know to what extent others may have aided them and the search for a wider network appears stalled. No one has been arrested as a suspected co-conspirator.

A recent government report said investigators had uncovered no links between the attacks and a set of failed bombing attempts two weeks later, for which five men are awaiting trial.

The huge police presence in London that immediately followed the attacks has largely vanished, but security remains tight. Terror fears have even touched the Wimbledon tennis tournament, where police this week are using mirrors to check underneath cars for bombs.

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