Terrorist Attacks on London Fail to Stop G8 Climate Talks
LONDON, UK, July 7, 2005 (ENS) - A string of bombings in Central London at the height of rush hour this morning have claimed the lives of at least 37 people and injured some 700 others. Police have mounted a massive search for the perpetrators.
Transport officials now confirm that there were four explosions on London's transport network this morning, three on the London Underground and one on a London bus. Earlier, Scotland Yard had said six incidents occurred on tube trains and buses.
The worst day in the history of the London Underground caused the entire system to be shut down, and it will not be reopened until Friday morning at the earliest. Explosions occurred at the Aldgate, Russell Square and Edgware Road stations and on a Route 30 bus at Woburn Place. Panicked passengers were trapped in smoke filled trains for up to 20 minutes.
A spokesman from the Prime Minister's Office said that during his brief time in London, Blair met with the secretaries of state who are dealing with the aftermath of the attacks, with parliamentary leaders, and with officers at the Scotland Yard command center. The Prime Minister then returned to Gleneagles.
The attacks occurred on the day the G8 was attempting to achieve a consensus on how to limit global warming and still maintain economic growth.
The G8 leaders have not issued their communiqué on climate change today as planned, but the Prime Minister's spokesman said work has continued, and the G8 will produce the climate change communiqué tomorrow together with the communiqué on Africa. The African leaders who were planning to come tomorrow to Gleneagles will continue to come, he said.
Tomorrow Prime Minister Blair will return to London while the G8 and African leaders work on an agreement that is expected to offer debt relief and expanded trade relationships.
Shortly after the London attacks, Blair offered condolences to the victims and their families, tribute to the emergency services "that have been magnificent today in every respect," and to the "stoicism and resilience of the people of London."
"It is through terrorism that the people that have committed this terrible act express their values, and it is right at this moment that we demonstrate ours," Blair said. "When they try to intimidate us, we will not be intimidated. When they seek to change our country or our way of life by these methods, we will not be changed."
"I think we all know what they are trying to do," said Blair. "They are trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cower us, to frighten us out of doing the things that we want to do, of trying to stop us going about our business as normal, as we are entitled to do, and they should not, and they must not, succeed."
At Gleneagles, the leaders of all the nations and international organizations issued a joint statement, condemning "these barbaric attacks" that they called "not an attack on one nation, but on all nations and on civilized people everywhere."
"We will not allow violence to change our societies or our values," the summit participants said. "Nor will we allow it to stop the work of this Summit. We will continue our deliberations in the interests of a better world. Here at this Summit, the world’s leaders are striving to combat world poverty and save and improve human life. The perpetrators of today’s attacks are intent on destroying human life."
"The terrorists will not succeed," the leaders stated, as the flag over Gleneagles was lowered to half-staff in honor of the bombing victims.
"Today’s bombings will not weaken in any way our resolve to uphold the most deeply held principles of our societies and to defeat those who would impose their fanaticism and extremism on all of us," the G8 leaders declared. "We shall prevail. They shall not."
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was flying from London to Scotland to attend the G8 summit at the time of the deadly attacks. "Today, the world stands shoulder to shoulder with the British people," he said, "who with others around the world had mobilized so powerfully against poverty and climate change ahead of the Group of Eight summit, and who, I am sure, will confront this ordeal with the same spirit, courage and determination.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the explosions in London "an enormous crime" and said the international community was "doing too little" to achieve unity in combating terrorism. "I would like to say that Russia has itself repeatedly experienced terrorist acts, brutal and bloody, which have taken the lives of hundreds of our innocent citizens," Putin said in a statement.
"For this reason, in no other country has this event evoked such a response, and in no other country has such sympathy been shown for those affected or have such condolences been expressed as have been in our country," he said.
Expressions of condolences and and resolve poured in from around the world. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said the continuation of the G-8 talks is the right course of action.
"Absolutely it's right," she told BBC News, "because you don't want to give terrorists a victory to think that they could stop the important discussions that are going on about the environment and how to have a clean environment with economic growth; to have members of places - of countries like South Africa and India there to talk about these rising multiethnic democracies, how to help them; and the very important work that is going on on African development and on the alleviation of disease."
Speaking today at Gleneagles, President of the European Commission Jose Barroso said, 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."
"Citizens across Europe share the grief which is being felt by the people of Britain, and we share the sense of vulnerability about a threat which can strike any of our Member States at any time," Barroso said. "There must be no safe haven for terrorists and terrorism in the European Union."
An unknown group linking themselves to Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attacks on a known Jihadist website, but this has not yet been confirmed.
While police have no suspects in custody, Prime Minister Blair referred to the possibility that the attacks were perpetrated by Muslim fundamentalists. "I welcome the statement that has been put out by the Muslim Council of Great Britain," Blair said. "We know that these people act in the name of Islam, but we also know that the vast and overwhelming majority of Muslims, here and abroad, are decent and law-abiding people who abhor this act of terrorism every bit as much as we do."
Immediately after the bombings, the Council stated, "The Muslim Council of Britain utterly condemns today's indiscriminate acts of terror in London. These evil deeds makes victims of us all. It is our humanity that must bring us shoulder to shoulder to condemn, to oppose and to overcome those who would spread fear, hatred and death."
The Muslim American Society issued a statement that "utterly condemns the heinous acts of terror that rocked the London transit system..."
"We call upon our government and all Americans to remain extra vigilant, and call upon the Department of Homeland Security to ensure the safety and protection of all Americans from such atrocities," the Society said.
"We also call upon all Americans, media outlets and government officials to continue to be clear and careful in seeing these crimes for what they are, and not link, nor associate them, with any faith or religion," the Society stated. "These are crimes against humanity perpetrated by evil individuals and have absolutely nothing to do with any religion or faith."
Prime Minister Tony Blair said, "There will, of course, now be the most intense police and security service action to make sure that we bring those responsible to justice."