BIG 8 AT IT'S BEST NEWS

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       JULY .21.2005 AND JULY.22.2005  WEEK.29.OF 2005 LONDON NEWS UPDATE       

       BIG 8 AT IT'S BEST NEWS  --  WE ARE HERE FOR YOU  DAVID AARON AGRCIA              

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Two Arrested in London Subway, Bus Blasts

 

LONDON - Small explosions struck the London Underground and a bus at midday Thursday in

a chilling but bloodless replay of the suicide bombings that killed 56 people two weeks ago.

Police made two arrests in the case

 

No one was injured in the coordinated lunch-hour blasts, which shocked and disrupted the

capital and were hauntingly similar to the July 7 bombings by four attackers.

Police Commissioner Ian Blair said forensic evidence collected from the crime scenes could

 provide a "significant break" in solving the case, and hours later police announced two

 arrests in connection with the latest attacks.

One man was arrested near Downing Street, site of the prime minister's residence, and the

other near Tottenham Court Road, which is near the Warren Street subway station where one

of the incidents took place. Police said the men were being questioned.

"Clearly, the intention must have been to kill," Blair told a news conference. "You don't do this

with any other intention."

He also said it was not clear if the two sets of attacks were connected.

Panicked and screaming commuters fled the three affected Underground stations, sometimes

 leaving behind their shoes, after the near-simultaneous blasts. Firefighters and police with bomb

-sniffing dogs sealed off nearby city blocks and evacuated rows of restaurants, pubs and offices.

Prime Minister

Tony Blair appealed for calm.

"We can't minimize incidents such as this," he said at a news conference with

 the Australian prime minister. "They're done to scare people, to frighten them and

make them worried."

He held an emergency Cabinet meeting but said no policy decisions were made.

President Bush was briefed on the explosions and said the terrorists "understand

 when they kill in cold blood it ends up on our TV screens and they're trying to shake

our will. And they're trying to create vacuums in which their ideology can move."

U.S. mass transit systems remain on code orange, or high alert, since the London

bombings two weeks ago, but the rest of the country is at yellow, signifying an elevated risk.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said police will begin conducting random

searches of packages and backpacks of people entering the city's subway, which carrie

s about 4.5 million passengers on the average weekday. Officials would not immediately

say how frequently the checks would occur.

London Transport spokesman Steve Taylor told The Associated Press that it would be

 impracticable to check bags, or to install airport-style metal detectors and X-ray machines

 in a subway network that carries 3 million passengers a day, or a bus system that carries some 6 million daily.

Ian Blair, the police commissioner, called the blasts "a very serious incident."

"We know that we have four explosions or attempts of explosions, and it is still pretty

unclear as to what has happened," he said outside Scotland Yard.

"At the moment the casualty numbers appear to be very low ... the bombs appear to

 be smaller" than those detonated July 7, he said. He added later that not all the bombs went off.

Independent security and defense analyst Paul Beaver said he was told by an official

close to the investigation that it appeared two devices detonated but that the other two did not.

Police initially said one person was injured in the blasts, but later said there were no

 bomb blast injuries, although one person was reported to have suffered an asthma attack.

An armed police unit entered University College hospital shortly after the blasts.

Sky News TV reported that police were searching for a man with a blue shirt with wires

 protruding. Officers asked employees to look for a black or Asian male about 6-foot-2.

The attacks, which targeted trains near the Warren Street, Oval and Shepherd's Bush

stations, did not shut down the subway system, only three of its lines. The double-decker

bus had its windows blown out on Hackney Road in east London.

"When I got home, my hands were shaking," says 24-year-old commuter Lisa Chilley,

who uses the targeted Oval station. "I'm panicking like hell. It's just too close to home."

Witnesses told The Associated Press they did not hear a bang but smelled something

 similar to an electrical fire at the Warren Street station.

Police in chemical protection suits were at the Warren Street station, but no chemical

 agents were found.

Stagecoach, the company which operates the stricken bus, said the driver heard a bang

and went upstairs, where he found the windows blown out. The company said the bus

was structurally intact and there were no injuries.

The incidents paralleled the July 7 blasts, which involved explosions at three Underground

 stations simultaneously starting at 8:50 a.m., followed quickly by a bomb going off on a bus.

 Those bombings, during the morning rush hour, also occurred in the center of London,

 hitting the Underground from various directions.

Thursday's strikes, which began at 12:38 p.m., were more spread out.

"People were panicking. But very fortunately the train was only 15 seconds from the station,"

witness Ivan McCracken told Sky news.

McCracken said another passenger at Warren Street told him he saw a backpack explode.

 The July 7 bombs were carried in backpacks, police said.

McCracken said he smelled smoke, and people were panicking and entering his subway car.

He said he spoke to an Italian man who was comforting a woman, and "he said that a man was

carrying a rucksack and the rucksack suddenly exploded. It was a minor explosion but enough

 to blow open the rucksack."

"The man then made an exclamation as if something had gone wrong. At that point everyone

rushed from the carriage," McCracken said.

The U.S. Embassy was closed to visitors about two hours after the blasts as a precaution, but

 embassy staff continued working, said spokeswoman Susan Domowitz.

The explosions came as Pakistani intelligence officials said authorities are seeking the former

 aide of a radical cleric in Britain in connection with the July 7 bombings.

The officials said British investigators asked Pakistani authorities to search for Haroon Rashid

Aswat, who reportedly had been in close contact with the suicide bombers just before the attacks.

Aswat, 31, was of Indian origin and may not be in Pakistan, according to two intelligence officials

in Islamabad and one in Lahore, all speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not

 authorized to talk to the media and because of the sensitivity of the investigation.

Aswat reportedly was once an associate of Abu Hamza al-Masri, a radical imam awaiting trial in

Britain on charges of incitement to murder. Al-Masri also is wanted in the United States on charges

 of trying to establish a terrorist training camp in Bly, Ore.; involvement in hostage-taking in Yemen;

and funding terror training in

Afghanistan.

Quoting unidentified intelligence sources, The Times of London said Aswat visited the

hometowns of the four London bombers and selected their targets. It also reported there

had been up to 20 phone calls between Aswat and two of the bombers before the attacks.

Aswat's relatives in Batley, near the northern English town of Leeds, which was home to

two of the suicide bombers, said they had not heard from him for many years.

"He has not lived at this house and we have not had contact with him for many years,"

said his father, Rashid, who asked for his family to be left in peace. "There is no story

 that we can provide."

Authorities are investigating whether the London bombing suspects, three of whom were

 of Pakistani origin and traveled to Pakistan last year, received training or other assistance

 from militants in that country.

One of the July 7 bombers, Shahzad Tanweer, 22, is suspected of visiting a madrassa linked

with militants in Lahore which has become a focus of the inquiry.

A Pakistani newspaper reported that Tanweer revered

Osama bin Laden. The English-language Dawn newspaper said Tanweer visited relatives in

November in a farming village near Faisalabad in eastern Pakistan. During his stay,

he was visited by another bombing suspect, Mohammed Sidique Khan, 30, Tanweer's

 uncle told the newspaper.

Pakistan has pledged to curb religious extremism amid international concerns that

Islamic schools, or madrassas, are promoting extremism.

Mirror image terror attacks hit London but carnage not

repeated

LONDON - London was struck by a virtually identical repeat of the July 7 attacks

 as three subway trains and a bus were targeted with bombs, but this time carnage was

 averted as the devices apparently failed to explode.

The British capital was plunged into confusion for the second time in a fortnight

following the four bomb blasts or attempted blasts inside an hour, sending terrified

commuters fleeing from London Underground stations.

In an eerie mirror image of the attacks two weeks ago in which at least 56 people died,

there were three almost simultaneous incidents on subway trains followed an hour later

 by an explosion on a bus, taking place at four points around London.

Again, as on July 7, some of the explosives appeared to have been placed in rucksacks,

 with witnesses on two of the targeted subway trains reporting minor blasts inside bags.

However, rather than the carnage of a fortnight before, the latest blasts had minimal power,

with police eventually saying that not a single injury had been caused.

Police refused to categorically link the two sets of attacks, but terrorism experts said it

 appeared likely that both were intended to cause maximum casualties, the only difference

being that the second set of bombs failed -- for some reason -- to go off as planned.

Ian Blair, the head of London's Metropolitan Police, said the aim of Thursday's attempted

attacks was plain.

"Clearly the intention must have been to kill. You don't do this with any other intention," he said.

"I think the important point is that the intention of the terrorists has not been fulfilled."

The alert began just before 12:30 pm (1130 GMT) when police evacuated Shepherd's Bush

Underground station to the west of the city centre, with witnesses reporting smoke around the station entrance.

Almost simultaneously there were emergencies at two other stations, Oval to the south and

 Warren Street, right next to London's central West End shopping district.

Witnesses on the latter two trains reported seeing small explosions coming from rucksacks,

the same bomb-carrying method used by the four British Muslim men named by police as the

July 7 suicide bombers.

Ivan McCracken, who had been on the train attacked at Warren Street, said fellow passengers

 described seeing a man carrying a rucksack which "suddenly exploded."

"It was a minor explosion but enough to blow open the rucksack. The man then made an

exclamation as if something had gone wrong. At that point everyone rushed from the carriage," he said.

An eyewitness on the train at Oval station described seeing a man flee after his rucksack blew up.

"There was a little explosion. As soon as the door opened the man ran away and people were

 trying to run after him," the unnamed woman told Sky News television.

About an hour later, the driver of a Number 26 bus driving through Shoreditch, just east of the

 centre, reported hearing a loud bang on the top deck of the vehicle followed by a pall of smoke.

On investigating he found some of the bus's windows blown out.

Police commissioner Blair said later that he felt "very positive" clues left in the latest attacks

could give vital pointers for the investigation into the earlier blasts.

"We do believe that this may represent a significant breakthrough in the sense that there is

 obviously forensic material at these scenes which may be very helpful to us," he said.

Magnus Ranstorp, director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence

at the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland, said the bombs may have been a "bad batch"

 or badly wired.

"I think there could be the possibility that the material was degraded or they did not wire it

correctly," he told AFP.

Officers were also hunting for the suspected bombers, notably a man seen fleeting from

 Oval station.

Witnesses reported a man running up the escalators after the blast was almost stopped, with

a florist working outside the station coming within a whisker of trapping the man.

"He grabbed hold of him as he jumped over the barriers but he got away and ran across

the road into the park," Alex Gibson, 30, a barman working at a nearby pub, said of the chase.

Prime Minister

Tony Blair urged Londoners to repeat their much-praised attitude to the July 7

 attacks and carry on as normal.

The attackers were trying to "intimidate people and to scare them and to frighten

them to stop them going about their normal business," he said after talks with

 Australian Prime Minister John Howard at Downing Street.

Despite the limited impact, the attacks shut down much of the London

Underground system and brought traffic gridlock to parts of the city as police sealed off a series of streets.

For the second time in two weeks, thousands of Londoners heading home from work

 faced the prospect of waiting hours for a packed bus, walking to a railway station or

making the entire journey on foot.

"You can never really expect it, but it's less of a surprise this time," said Siva Rubakumar,

 a 32-year-old accountant standing near Saint Paul's station, wondering how to begin his

 trek to a distant northern suburb.

"But what can you do? You have to keep going on. You don't want these people to change

 the way you live."

4 Small Explosions Jolt London and Disrupt Transit

LONDON, July 21 - Assailants with explosives struck at

three subway trains and a doubledecker bus today, sending passenger

 fleeing for safety in what may have been copycat attacks just two weeks

 after the London terror bombings claimed 56 lives.

 The blasts, much smaller than on July 7, were "pretty close to

simultaneous," said Sir Ian Blair, the Scotland Yard commander, and "some

of them may not have gone off properly," suggesting that London had narrowly

averted the carnage of the earlier bombings.

"I don't known how narrow it was but clearly the intention must

have been to kill," said Sir Ian, who said there was apparently only

one casualty. "The intention of the terrorists has not been fulfilled."

The attacks spread chaos and confusion as parts of the London subway

and road system came to a halt. Three subway stations were evacuated,

 and a No. 26 bus ground to a stop in Bethnal Green, in east London. By

early evening there was no indication of who was responsible.

"In each of these scenes attempts have been made to set off explosives," Sir

Ian said. But, he said, events were "incredibly fast-moving" and he declined to

answer reporters' questions relating directly to the inquiry so far.

Sir Ian did say the police "may have recovered forensic material. It may be

important to our investigation."

In rapid-fire sequence, the city re-lived the early moments of the first attacks

 on July 7, with police cordoning areas, sirens wailing and passengers pouring

 out of subway stations. The images seemed chillingly familiar after the attacks

two weeks ago.

For hours afterward, the city remained on edge with rumors and reports of

security alarms as police tracked down suspicious packages. From at least two

 subway stations - Oval, south of the Thames and Warren Street in central London -

 initial reports from witnesses said suspects had fled, one of them into a hospital.

Two people were detained after the attacks, but, by early evening, there were no formal arrests.

In one case, television footage showed a man in dark clothing laying on the

sidewalk across the Whitehall thoroughfare from Downing Street - the prime

minister's office. Two armed police officers in bullet-proof vests approached the

 man and one of them kept him in the sights of an assault rifle as he raised his hands

 aloft then wriggled free of a backpack he was wearing.

The police made no immediate comment on the similarities with the July 7 attacks.

Like then, the targets were three subway trains and a bus, and the timing appeared to

be coordinated. Also like then, the attacks were also distributed to all four points of the

compass. Unlike July 7, the strikes did not come during rush hour.

"We can't minimize incidents such as this because they obviously have been serious

 in four different places, as we know," Prime Minister Tony Blair told reporters, after

huddling with security and intelligence chiefs in an emergency conclave known as

 the Cobra group.

"I think all I would like to say is this: We know why these things are done. They are

done to scare people and to frighten them, to make them anxious and worried." The

prime minister was speaking after a meeting with his Australian counterpart, John Howard.

At first, Sir Ian repeated the same message as on July 7, telling Londoners to remain

 where they were.

But after more than three hours of paralysis in many parts of the city, he said:

"The situation is now coming fully under control. We have all four scenes of the

 incidents confirmed and confined. We have no evidence at the present time,

 nothing to indicate any kind of attack which involves chemicals or anything else."

After the first blasts on July 7, police discovered that four men between the ages

of 18 and 30 had blown themselves up with bombs on three subway trains and a

 bus. Since then investigators have followed leads to Egypt and Pakistan and Prime

Minister Blair has blamed the "evil ideology" of Islamic fundamentalism for

inspiring the four bombers.

Police had warned since then that Britain was at risk of further attacks, but Londoners

 had generally been emerging from the shadow of the first attacks and returned to

traveling on the subway, which is known here as The Tube.

4 Small Explosions Jolt London and Disrupt Transit

 

The Evening Standard newspaper published an early edition - before the attacks

today - to fete "London United." The later edition, after the attacks, bore a huge

headline: "New Bomb Terror on the Tube."

Despite the alarms in four parts of the city - at Oval, Warren Street and Shepherds

 Bush and near Hackney in east London - other parts of British life went on

with remarkable insouciance.

Queen Elizabeth II hosted one of her regular summer garden parties in the grounds

of Buckingham Palace where men in formal attire and women in wide-brimmed hats

sip tea and eat sandwiches and scones in shady marquees in the Palace Gardens.

 At the packed Lords cricket ground, bathed in bright sunlight, Britain played

 Australia in one of the great needle-matches of the cricketing calendar.

Initial accounts of the lunchtime bombings seemed confused.

At Oval station, on the Northern Line, a police officer who spoke in anonymity

according to police regulations, said a man threw a package or backpack into a

 subway car just before the train moved off. While the train was still in the station

"the device exploded," and the attacker escaped.

"As you can imagine the train was pretty packed," the officer said. "It was

 lunchtime and it was pretty surprising that no one was hurt."

At Shepherd's Bush station, where the subway line runs above ground, there

was no immediate indication from the police what had happened.

At Warren Street, Ivan McCracken, a passenger, told Sky News he had heard

from a fellow passenger that "a man was carrying a rucksack and the rucksack

suddenly exploded. It was a minor explosion but enough to blow open the rucksack."

On board the No. 26 bus - a red doubledecker like the No. 30 bus blown up on

July 7 - there were conflicting reports about the intensity of a reported explosion.

Mark Bond, a passenger, said in a broadcast interview that there had been a noise

 from the rear of the bus.

"Everyone froze for a couple of minutes," he said. "Then everyone just rushed out.

It can hit anyone at any time anywhere. I feel very unsafe."

A police officer patrolling several hundred yards from the bus, who spoke on

condition of anonymity, said people were being warned to stay indoors and were

being kept away from the bus because explosives experts were "looking to see what's

round the detonator." He declined to give further details.

At the Oval station, some passengers said the attack had left people feeling powerless.

"You don't want to start feeling scared to be in your own city," said Joseph Durrin,

 33, a graphic designer. "It's scary to think terrorists might still be here. There is

 nothing you could really do about that. How can you stop someone taking public

transportation?"

Tom McFarlon, 36, another graphic designer, said: "If people want to do it, they do it."

Near Warren Street station, Chris Coupe, a 38-year-old fitness instructor from

Manchester, said: "A certain amount of paranoia is kicking in. When people see

packages they pay special attention to it."

Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, a former intelligence chief, told the BBC that

 similarities with the July 7 attacks lay in the "geographic pattern and the

 same transport systems" chosen to be attacked. The differences, she said, were

 that the attacks today were "not as competently planned, not as well planned,

not as well executed."

"It's an important development if people can be caught" by the police, she said.

Tube still disrupted after blasts

 

London's Tube network is gradually reopening after a series of minor explosions

 on the network.

However, the Hammersmith and City Line is completely shut following the latest

 incidents on Thursday.

The Northern Line is suspended between Stockwell to Kennington and Mornington

Crescent to Charing Cross.

 

Victoria Line is suspended from Victoria to Highbury and Islington

Services on the Piccadilly Line have been disrupted after some Tube drivers refused

 to work amid safety concerns.

London Underground (LU) said they had been in talks with staff to discuss their concerns

and hoped the service would soon be back to normal.

Tim O'Toole, director of LU, said: "After confusing news reports were aired some London

 Underground drivers had legitimate concerns."

He said that following talks he believed that "LU staff will continue to work with the poise

 and professionalism they have demonstrated consistently over the last two weeks".

Emergency meeting

The Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has pledged to back any employee who

refused to work normally on grounds of safety following the latest explosions.

Bob Crow, of the RMT, said "enormous pressure" was put on Tube workers to continue

working as normal following the blasts and that staff had expected the entire network

 to be shut down,

He added: "At the emergency meeting today we were told that lines apparently unaffected

by the attacks should continue running."

He said they would be discussing these issues in a meeting with the mayor on Friday.

The Oval, Warren Street and Shepherd's Bush (Hammersmith and City Line) Tube stations

remain closed after being evacuated shortly before 1230 BST.

Roads surrounding Warren Street and Shepherd's Bush and Hackney Road in east London

are still sealed off.

The Circle Line remains closed after the 7 July bombings as does the District Line between

 Edgware Road and High Street Kensington.

Metropolitan Line services are still suspended between Moorgate to Aldgate, also as a

 result of the bombings two weeks ago.

UK bombs meant as carbon-copy, may be same group

 

LONDON

 

Four attempted bombings on London's transport system on Thursday look like an

intended carbon-copy of attacks that killed 56 people two weeks ago and may be masterminded by the

same group, security analysts said.

They put forward two main scenarios behind the latest blasts, which were much smaller than the previous

ones, and did not cause any fatalities.

The first, more benign explanation, was that the attacks were carried out by "imitative amateurs" intent

on mounting a copycat strike by targeting three underground trains and a bus in a cross-formation

 across the city.

The second, more worrying, was that the same group behind the suspected al Qaeda-linked attacks on

 July 7 had struck again, albeit with far less devastating effect.

Police refused to be drawn on which was more likely.

"Whether or not this is directly connected, in the sense of carried out by the same group of people,

 however loosely knit that is, I think that's going to take just a little bit longer before we can qualify

that," police chief Ian Blair said.

But he added: "Clearly, the intention must have been to kill."

"TERRORIST PSYCHOLOGY"

Whoever was behind Thursday's attacks, they managed to manufacture four explosive devices and

smuggle them on to the London transport network despite the highest levels of security and public

watchfulness in London for years.

If the same group was responsible for two waves of coordinated attacks two weeks apart, it would

show an alarming ease in mobilising fresh operatives -- perhaps even would-be suicide bombers --

 to follow the example of the four bombers who blew themselves up on July 7.

"The more we know about the bomb attack two weeks ago, the more skilful it looks, well planned --

the people behind it know what they're doing," said Michael Clarke, security expert at King's College

 London.

"It is entirely plausible that they will have planned a campaign, not just one bomb. It's part of terrorist

 psychology that one bomb is never enough."

Former U.S. intelligence official Robert Ayers, a security analyst at respected London think tank, the

Chatham House institute, said he thought it more likely the same group was behind both attacks than

that a second, independent group had now emerged.

"What I've been saying all along is that you had four guys that died (in the July 7 bombings), but the

infrastructure that trained them, equipped them, funded them, pointed them at the right target --

 the infrastructure's still in place."

If the same group was involved, the obvious question is why the first wave of attacks was so professional

and deadly and the second apparently so amateur.

UNUSED EXPLOSIVES

Ayers noted that police had recovered unused explosives from various sites including a hire car

abandoned by the July 7 bombers at Luton, near London.

"One speculation I've had all along is that they left those explosives in the car for another group

 to pick up and carry out a second attack, but when they got there the car had already been taken

 over by the police, so they've had to cobble something together fairly quickly," he said.

Both Clarke and Ayers said witness accounts of Thursday's incidents suggested the bombs had

malfunctioned.

"From what I've been able to gather, either the bombs themselves are very, very small compared to

two weeks ago, or they've got a manufacturing problem and only the detonators are going off,

and not the primary charge," Ayers said.

"They're certainly using explosives that aren't nearly as powerful."

The analysts said the impact of a second attack, although less deadly than the first, would be

 highly disruptive to life and business in Europe's biggest financial center.

Navin Reddy, strategic risk analyst at consultancy Merchant International Group, said "every

half-baked terrorist in the country" would be looking at committing similar attacks.

"Given that the intelligence services will be unable to track groups that act independently of

the major terror organizations they do watch, this raises the risk level," he said.

"The events of today and July 7 are having a distinct economic impact on the running of the

capital. They have disrupted the transport system and they have tied up the emergency services.

"The longer-term trickle effect on the nation's pyschology and missed business opportunities

could mount up," he added.

Experts: Latest London Blasts Amateurish

LONDON - The attacks on London's transit system Thursday appeared less sophisticated than

 the deadly suicide bombings two weeks ago, but terrorism experts said they may have been

 sufficient to accomplish the goal

The "worrying trend" is that the terrorists "have realized that that they don't have to have

 (very large) explosions" to disrupt people's lives, said John Carnt, a former 30-year veteran of

Scotland Yard and managing director of Vance, a global investigation and security firm.

The devices used Thursday appeared to be smaller than the bombs that killed 52 people as

well as the four suicide bombers on July 7, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair said.

Jeremy Binnie, an analyst with the London-based Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Center,

said there were key differences between Thursday's attacks and the previous blasts.

The latest strikes did not take place at rush hour, they targeted more outlying stations and

 "if there were bombs, they seem to have been duds," Binnie told The Associated Press.

 "It seems much more amateurish in many ways."

That could suggest a copycat operation, but Binnie cautioned that it was too early to tell.

 He said investigations into the July 7 blasts showed signs there could be a second terror cell.

Keith Burnet, an expert at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, a London-based think-tank,

 also said Thursday's events are part of a "copycat exercise, carried out by people not as

sophisticated as the bombers who struck on July 7."

Burnet said there was little that Britain's security forces could do — short of searching every

 passenger on the capital's huge network of buses and trains — to thwart such attacks.

He said the quick response by police and medics may be partly credited to London's heightened

 state of alert from the deadly bombings two weeks ago.

One of the greatest fears of law enforcers is the idea that an audacious attack will inspire similar

attacks, said Rachel Bronson, director of Mideast Studies at the New York-based Council on

 Foreign Relations. "It's all done to sow terror, and there's nothing more terrifying than bombs

 followed by bombs," she said.

Alarmingly, it appears that the group was able to attack in the midst of an intense investigation

 of the previous bus and train bombings. Often such followup attacks are uncovered and

 thwarted, Bronson said.

"What is very worrisome, London intelligence, which is among the best in the world, was not

only surprised two weeks ago, but they're surprised by this," Bronson said.

Paul Rogers, a terror expert at Bradford University in northern England, said investigators

 would have lots of forensic evidence to work on from the latest blasts.

"They will have the devices and much can be done to them in terms of fingerprinting, DNA,

 the origin of the detonators and where the bags were bought," he said. "If this was a series

 of dummies deliberately timed to cause mass panic then it puts the people responsible at

considerable risk of being found."

He also said the attacks could point to the existence of another terrorist cell in Britain.

"The one ominous thing is that this appears to be a group of a similar nature to the previous

July 7 bombers," Rogers said. "It implies there might be another cell primed and ready to attack."

London attackers 'meant to kill'

The attempted bombings in London were designed to kill people, the head of the

 Metropolitan Police has said.

But Sir Ian Blair said evidence left at the scenes could be very helpful to police

and added "the intention of the terrorists has failed".

It is believed devices only partially exploded at four locations, three at Tube

 stations and one on a bus.

Sir Ian said the ambulance service had not taken anyone to hospital after the

blasts, which were almost simultaneous.

But he said: "There is a report of one casualty at one hospital... who may or may

 not be connected to this."

An eyewitness at one of the affected tube stations spoke of hearing a bang and

seeing a man with a rucksack flee the scene.

Mayor Ken Livingstone praised the emergency services and said the people of

 London would "get through this".

The attacks:

The attacks took place almost simultaneously, at about 1230 BST.

London's transport system was quickly thrown into chaos, with a number of

 Tube lines closed and roads shut off as cordons were established.

  • At Warren Street Tube station witnesses reported hearing a bang at the
  • front of a train, creating some panic among passengers.
  • Armed officers were twice deployed to nearby University College Hospital,
  •  following reports that someone had run away from Warren Street. Three
  • unoccupied rooms in the hospital remained cordoned off on Thursday evening.
  • Police later said they believed two people who had been arrested in the area
  •  were unconnected to the blasts and had been released.
  • At Oval Tube station about 20 or 30 passengers were evacuated from a
  • train after seeing "white smoke". The RMT union's security meeting was
  • told the suspect used a handgun to try and detonate explosives contained in a
  • backpack, BBC London Transport correspondent Andrew Winstanley said.
  • There were reports that bystanders tried to tackle a man as he fled the station.
  • At Shepherd's Bush a man was reported to have fled after the attack, on the
  • Hammersmith and City Line.
  • On a Number 26 bus on the Hackney Road there was an explosion on the top
  •  deck. The windows of the bus, which was travelling from Waterloo to Hackney,
  • were blown out, although there was no structural damage.
  • Tests for chemical, biological and radiological weapons at all four sites proved
  • negative.

Many residents in areas near the Tube stations affected are still not able to return

to their homes, with many waiting in community centres for the all-clear.

'Unexploded' devices

Sir Ian said there was a "resonance" with the bomb attacks which killed 56 people

two weeks ago, but that it was too early to draw any conclusions about whether they were

linked.

He said important information could be recovered by forensics experts. "From what

 I understand, some of the devices remain unexploded," he said.

Former government intelligence analyst Crispin Black said the possibility of examining

the devices was significant: "This, in forensic terms, is bingo, this is as good as it gets."

BBC security correspondent Mark Urban said initial indications were that the devices

 were put together in a way very similar to those used two weeks ago.

He said there were suggestions that the rucksacks themselves, as well as the choice

 of three tube trains and one bus as targets, all suggested a similar method of attacks.

There was also speculation that the devices were so similar to those used two weeks

ago that they may even have been part of the same batch.

'Someone stop him'

One eyewitness at Oval tube told how she heard a "big bang, like a balloon had

popped but a lot louder" and the passengers moved away into another carriage.

"There was a guy still standing in the carriage.

"We pulled into Oval, we all got off on the platform and the guy just ran, started

running up the escalator.

"Everyone was screaming 'someone stop him."

As the investigation began, Sir Ian warned against "smearing" any particular

 community with the blame for Thursday's attacks.

"These are criminal acts and we are in pursuit of a set of criminals," he said.

'Normal business'

Prime Minister Tony Blair urged people to carry on as before.

He said: "Everyone is canny enough to know what these people are trying

 to do....and that is to intimidate people and to scare them and to frighten them

 to stop them going about their normal business."

Ken Livingstone said he was not surprised that London had been attacked again.

"Those people whose memories stretch back to the 70s, 80s and 90s will remember

 there were horrifying bombing campaigns in London," he said. "We got through

 that and we'll get through this."

Mr Livingstone backed a police appeal for information on who may have been

 behind the attacks.

He said religious leaders should remind their congregations of the immorality

 of what had happened and that people should come forward even if the was only

"a remote possibility" that they could help catch those to blame.

Police have asked that any images of the attacks are sent to www.police.uk.

 The hotline number for anybody with information is 0800 789 321. Witness

reception points have been set up near the four scenes.

Police hunt bombers who struck London again

·  Second bomb attack in two weeks

·  Explosions after four bomb attempts

·  Three on Tube lines, one on bus

·  One person injured

Scotland Yard mounted a massive manhunt tonight after bombers set off four near-simultaneous

explosions on the Underground and a London bus, two weeks to the day after the suicide

 bombings of July 7.

Police said only one person was wounded in the bomb blasts or attempted blasts at Warren

Street, Oval and Shepherd's Bush Tube stations, and on the top deck of a bus passing through Hackney.

Graphic of the blasts

Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said the explosions were "pretty close to

 simultaneous", although not all the devices had gone off properly and investigators might be

 able to recover valuable forensic evidence.

He said that the devices used were smaller than the July 7 attacks - in which suicide bombers

killed more than 50 people - and there was no sign of any chemical or biological attack.

"The situation is now coming fully under control," said Sir Ian, who added that while there

was a certain "resonance" in a comparison between the two attacks, it was still too early to

say that the same group may have been responsible.

But the apparent failure of the devices could be a major breakthrough if the devices provide

fingerprints, DNA and possible matches to the bombs used on July 7.

CCTV from Underground stations and the London streets, witness statements and descriptions

provided by passengers will be a major part of identifying and catching the bombers.

Sir Ian said: "We have recovered a quantity of material which is very helpful. We do believe

 this may be a significant breakthrough."

Two weeks ago, four suicide bombers wreaked havoc in the London rush hour, also targeting

 three Tube trains and a bus in co-ordinated blasts. Three of the bombers were Muslims of

 Pakistani origin from Leeds and the fourth was a Jamaican-born Muslim convert from Aylesbury.

Streets around the three Tube stations were cordoned off after today's attacks, as was University

 College Hospital, near Warren Street, where armed police reportedly chased a man into the

 building. Police left the building around 4pm, apparently without making an arrest.

Hours after the blast on the No 26 bus in Hackney Road, East London, a police cordon was

 keeping locals and a crowd of reporters 400 yards from the scene.

The driver of the bus, Mark Maybank, 38, told his bosses that he immediately pulled over and

 shouted for everyone to get off the bus when he heard a small explosion and saw smoke. He

 rushed to the top deck of his vehicle and saw an abandoned rucksack - which police were

still examining with caution tonight.

Tony Blair broke off from a meeting with his Australian counterpart, John Howard, to be

briefed on the incidents. After chairing a meeting of Cobra, the Cabinet emergency

 committee, Mr Blair said that he would be resuming his normal schedule - even though

a man with a knapsack was arrested at the gates of Downing Street and led away at

gunpoint in an incident later described as unconnected with the bombings.

"We know why these things are done, they're done to scare people and to frighten them, to

make them anxious and worried," Mr Blair told a press conference. "The police have done

their very best and the security services too in this situation and I think we've just got to react calmly."

Sir Ian appealed to Londoners to stay off the transport system, but to go about their normal

business. Five Tube lines - the Victoria, Northern, Hammersmith and City, Bakerloo and Piccadilly

- were suspended or partly suspended, although shuttle services were organised.

The Scotland Yard chief said he would not give any details of the course of the investigation,

 which was evolving rapidly. He confirmed that a manhunt was under way, although he said it

was not yet clear how many people might have been involved in the attacks.

As commuters faced a difficult journey home, it emerged that St Albans station had been

closed due to a security alert, severely disrupting train services to the Midlands.

Londoners were also urged to avoid making long mobile telephone calls, and to use text

 messages instead if possible, to avoid overloading mobile networks.

Experts were divided on who might have been responsible. Robert Ayers, a security analyst

 at Chatham House in London, said that that he believed that the same group was behind both attacks.

"All along I've been saying that you had four guys that died [in the July 7 bombings], but the

 infrastructure that trained them, equipped them, funded them, pointed them at the right target

 - the infrastructure’s still in place, still here," he told the Reuters news agency.

He pointed out that police had recovered unused explosives from various sites, including

a hire car abandoned by bombers at Luton. Police carried out ten controlled explosions

on the hire car in Luton station car park before they placed it on a low-loader and took it away.

"One speculation I’ve had all along is that they left those explosives in the car for another

 group to pick up and carry out a second attack, but when they got there the car had

already been taken over by the police, so they have had to cobble something together

fairly quickly," he said.

Others however said that the bombs of two weeks ago might have inspired others to copy.

 "It looks like it may be people messing around, copycat-type stuff," said Dr Shane Brighton,

a terrorism expert at the Royal United Services Institute. "The absence of any clear evidence

of substantial blasts means that this is on the face of it at the moment not a follow-up attack of

the same proportion."

Dr Brighton added: "It may be an attempt by people to cause panic, maybe people with similar

ideas or ideological sympathy with the people that did the recent bombings...The nature of the

incidents doesn’t appear to be anything like as serious."

Like July 7, three Tube stations and a bus appeared to be involved, and as on July 7 the targets

appeared to describe a rough cross-shape on the map of London, with Warren St in the north,

Oval in the south, Hackney in the east and Shepherd's Bush in the west.

Victoria Line passenger Ivan McCracken claimed a traveller’s rucksack had exploded on the

Tube as it approached Warren Street station, which is just a few hundred yards from King's Cross station.

He told Sky News: "I was in a middle carriage and the train was not far short of Warren Street

station when suddenly the door between my carriage and the next one burst open and dozens

 of people started rushing through.

"Some were falling, there was mass panic. It was difficult to get the story from any of them

 what had happened but when I got to ground level there was an Italian young man

comforting an Italian girl who told me he had seen what had happened.

"He said that a man was carrying a rucksack and the rucksack suddenly exploded. It was a

 minor explosion but enough to blow open the rucksack. The man then made an exclamation

 as if something had gone wrong. At that point everyone rushed from the carriage."

Mr McCracken said he smelled smoke but did not see any injured passengers.

Other reports suggested that gunshots were fired as a man ran away from the scene at Warren

 Street. A witness spoke of hearing a noise like champagne corks popping, which one analyst

 said could be detonators going off.

 

Meanwhile at Oval station a woman passenger reported seeing a man with a rucksack struggling

 with three male passengers, next to a woman and crying baby. She said: "The carriage opened

and the man ran away, but they couldn’t catch up with him. As far as I’m aware that person has got

 away, but I was just trying to find a way out of the carriage and the station."

Marieta Alexis, 40, was near Warren Street when the station was closed. The PA commutes to London

 from Romford. "London is becoming like Israel or Beirut," she said. "I don’t feel safe. Now when I take

 the Tube I wonder what will happen. I look at everyone, especially people carrying rucksacks. They

 aren’t even threatening the big guns, it’s people like you and me who take the Tube and bus. I’m not

 petrified but I’ve definitely become more cautious."