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TERRORISM: London Blasts Attack the “Heart” of Europe

Stefania Bianchi

BRUSSELS, Jul 7 2005 (IPS) - European governments have condemned the four bomb blasts in London’s public transport system Thursday morning as an attack on the “heart” of Europe.
     Three explosions ripped through the London subway and one hit a double-decker bus during the city’s rush hour, claiming at least 33 lives and seriously injuring hundreds of people, according to information available at the time of this report.

European governments have condemned the four bomb blasts in London’s public transport system Thursday morning as an attack on the “heart” of Europe.

A series of bomb blasts ripped through the London subway and a double-decker bus during the city’s rush hour Thursday, claiming at least 33 lives and seriously injuring hundreds of people.

At the time of this report it was not known who was responsible for the attacks, although the BBC says a group calling itself “The Secret Organisation of al-Qaeda in Europe” has claimed responsibility for the explosions. In an unconfirmed message the group reportedly warns the “Danish and Italian government and all other crusaders” to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Speaking at the Group of Eight (G8) summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, shortly after the explosions were reported in London, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, the European Union executive arm, said the bombs were an attack on the bloc’s freedoms.

“This is an attack on the people of Britain, it is an attack on democracy, and it is an attack on the fundamental freedoms which go to the heart of the European Union,” he said.


“The European Union will offer every support and assistance available to the British authorities coping with this atrocity. We must stand resolutely together against terrorism in all its forms. At a time when world leaders are uniting to fight poverty, we can not allow the language of violence to prevail. Today’s attacks reinforce the urgency of global solidarity and action,” he added.

Speaking in Rome, EU justice commissioner Franco Frattini said the wave of blasts showed that terrorism had returned to the “heart” of Europe and he called for greater EU coordination against terror.

“I would like to stress that this attack is not an attack on the United Kingdom or its citizens only, but an attack on the whole of Europe and on all of us, all EU citizens. It is an attack on all those who defend and promote human rights and our shared values of freedom, liberty, justice and security,” he said.

“What should we do?” he asked. “Activate immediately coordination between intelligence and police forces and offer the United Kingdom all the help it needs.”

Josep Borrell, president of the European Parliament, expressed condolences on behalf of the whole parliament “to all suffering consequences of these barbaric attacks” as the chamber held a minute of silence at its plenary session in Strasbourg.

“As president of parliament and a citizen of a country that only last year experienced the horrors of such terrible attacks, I want to send a message of solidarity with British people,” said the Spanish lawmaker, referring to the Mar. 11, 2004 bomb blasts on Madrid trains that killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,800.

Spanish police arrested members of an extremist Islamist group from Morocco said to have ties to al-Qaeda.

“We all stand with you, British people, and we will never let atrocities or terrorism defeat the values of peace and democracy,” Borrell added.

Several political groups in the European Parliament also expressed their regret at the bombings.

Green leaders Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Monica Frassoni said, assuming the attacks were linked to the G8 meeting in Scotland, that the timing was “particularly cynical”.

“The leaders of the world’s richest countries are finally talking about finding ways to improve the lives of some of the poorest people in the world. To send a message that this is in someway wrong, is shocking and obscene,” they said in a statement.

Many countries stepped up security levels in their own countries following the attacks.

France, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic and the United States placed themselves on high states of alert while Budapest evacuated two trade centres following the attacks.

The Spanish government condemned the attacks and offered to help Britain “pursue the criminals who have carried out such a repugnant attack against a city that was celebrating its election as the host of the 2012 Olympic Games.”

The human rights group Amnesty International said targeting commuters “going about their daily business” showed “complete contempt for the most fundamental principles of humanity.”

“To the extent that these bombings are part of a widespread attack on the civilian population of the United Kingdom in furtherance of an organisation’s policy, they would constitute a crime against humanity,” Irene Khan, secretary general of Amnesty International, said in a statement Thursday.

“At this moment, more than ever, we must overcome fear with hope, inertia with action and indifference with solidarity. Our common vulnerability makes us all a part of this tragedy, but our common humanity and conviction in human rights must convert the sense of fear into solidarity and action,” she added.

 
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TERRORISM: London Blasts Attack the “Heart” of Europe

Stefania Bianchi

BRUSSELS, Jul 7 2005 (IPS) - European governments have condemned the four bomb blasts in London’s public transport system Thursday morning as an attack on the “heart” of Europe.
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