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Europe

Britain marks third anniversary of London attacks

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2009-07-07

Survivors and city officials alike will mark the third anniversary of the suicide bomb attacks which destroyed three underground trains and a bus in London in July 2005.

Survivors of the 2005 London suicide bombings which tore through three underground trains and a bus, killing 52 innocent people, are marking the third anniversary of the attacks Monday.
   
They will join victims' families and politicians laying flowers outside the capital's King's Cross railway station, from where the four British Muslim suicide bombers fanned out to wreak destruction across the capital.
   
The attacks threw the spotlight on the threat posed by homegrown terrorism in Britain, as well as perceptions of Britain's roughly 1.6 million Muslims. Dozens of the victims are still battling for compensation payments.
   
Security agency MI5 says Britain currently faces a "severe" threat from international terrorism -- which means an attack is highly likely -- adding the most significant risk comes from groups linked to Al-Qaeda.
   
Last year, its head Jonathan Evans said the number of people with suspected links to terrorists in Britain had risen from 1,600 in 2006 to at least 2,000.
   
Survivors and families of victims will join London Mayor Boris Johnson and Tessa Jowell, the government's London Minister, laying flowers at 8:50am (0750 GMT) -- the time when the first three bombs went off.
   
The devices were detonated by Mohammed Sidique Khan, 30; Shehzad Tanweer, 22; Hasib Mir Hussain, 18 and Jermaine Lindsay, 19, who were all killed in the blasts.
   
Although the Criminal Injuries and Compensation Authority (CICA) has paid out nearly 7.5 million pounds (9.5 million euros, 14.9 million dollars) in compensation to the injured, 73 out of 647 claims are still being processed.
   
Some survivors are pushing for a public inquiry into the bombings after it emerged that MI5 had observed two of the bombers, Khan and Tanweer, in 2004 while watching a man later jailed over a failed Al-Qaeda bombing campaign.
   
But no further action was taken against them at the time as officials said there was no evidence they posed a terrorist threat.
   
Meanwhile, many British Muslims have been left feeling "like the Jews of Europe", according to a government minister speaking in an anniversary television documentary looking at whether the fear of terrorism has fuelled violence and intolerance against Muslims here.
   
International Development Minister Shahid Malik -- Britain's first Muslim minister -- said he was not comparing Muslims' experiences to what Jews experienced during the Holocaust in Second World War Germany.
   
But in comments due to be broadcast on Channel Four Monday, Malik said: "In the way that it was legitimate almost -- and still is in some parts -- to target Jews, many Muslims would say that we feel the exact same way.
   
"Somehow there's a message out there that it's OK to target people as long as it's Muslims. And you don't have to worry about the facts, and people will turn a blind eye."
   
An ICM survey done for the documentary reportedly found that 51 percent of Britons blame Islam to some degree for the bombings and added eight out of ten Muslims believed their faith had faced more prejudice since then.

Date created : 2008-07-07

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