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London blasts: Police awaiting forensic evidence

H S Rao in London | July 22, 2005 01:39 IST

London was on Thursday rocked by four 'close to simultaneous' blasts in three tube stations and a bus, injuring one and causing panic and evacuation of parts of the city exactly two weeks after serial bomb blasts in the British capital killed at least 56.

London Police Commissioner Ian Blair said forensic material gathered from the sites of the blasts could prove a 'significant break' in solving the incidents.

"We do believe that this may represent a significant breakthrough in the sense that there obviously is forensic material at these scenes that could be very helpful to us so I feel very positive about some of these developments,'' he said.

The explosions at Warren Street tube station in central London, Oval in south London, Shepherd's Bush in west London and on a No 26 bus at the junction of Hackney Road and Columbia Road in Hackney, east London were 'pretty close to simultaneous', Blair said.

But he refused to connect Thursday's blasts to the July 7 suicide bombings on three underground trains and a bus carried out by four Islamic terrorists -- three of Pakistani origin and one a Jamaican -- saying, "It is too early."

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

Describing the copy-cat attacks as a 'very serious incident', the police commissioner said though the explosions were 'smaller than on the last occasion... we do not know the implications of all this yet."

Blair said, "We can all see in front of us that the attacks have a similar pattern to the previous one," but assured that the situation was coming 'fully under control'.

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

After an emergency meeting of his cabinet, Prime Minister Tony Blair told reporters there appeared to have been no casualties from Thursday's blasts in London. He urged people to get on with their business as normal.

One person is so far reported to have been injured at Shepherd's Bush.

Speaking at Downing Street, Blair however said, "We can't minimise incidents such as this. We know why these things are done. They're done to scare people."

Reports suggested that a number of blasts had been caused by dummy blasts caused by detonator caps exploding, unconnected to explosives. Witnesses at various scenes said the blasts had come from rucksacks.

Police appealed for mobile phone images from witnesses. The Metropolitan police said initial examinations at all four sites showed no trace of chemical agents.


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