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2005-07-07

London Subway and Bus Explosions Kill 37, Injure 700

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Tony Blair is calling the subway and bus explosions in London a series of terrorist attacks designed to coincide with the G8 meetings in Scotland. The blasts ripped through three subway trains and a double-decker bus. Forty people are confirmed dead and more than a hundred injured. We go to London for eye-witness reports and comment from former parliamentarian Tony Benn and independent journalist Omar Waraich. [includes rush transcript]

More than one hundred people are injured and forty people have been confirmed dead after a series of four explosions in London at rush hour this morning. Officials reported that near-simultaneous explosions occurred on three subway trains and a double-decker bus. Scotland Yard is calling the blasts a "major incident." All subway and bus service has been halted. Train passenger Angelo Power, a London barrister, described his experience during the blast.

  • Angelo Power, train passenger

British Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke several hours after the explosions from the G8 meetings in Scotland.

  • British Prime Minister Tony Blair
    I’m just going to make a short statement to you on the terrible events that have happened in London earlier today. And I hope you understand that at the present time we’re still trying to establish what has happened. There’s a limit to what information I can give you. And I’ll simply try and tell you the information as best I can at the moment.

It’s reasonably clear there have been a series of terrorist attacks in London. There are, obviously, casualties, both people that have died and people seriously injured. And our thoughts and prayers, of course, are with the victims and their families.

It’s my intention to leave the G-8 within the next couple of hours and go down to London and get a report face to face with the police and the emergency services and the ministers that have been dealing with this, and then to return later this evening. It is the will of all the leaders at the G-8, however, that the meeting should continue in my absence, that we should continue to discuss the issues that we were going to discuss and reach the conclusions which we were going to reach. Each of the countries around that table has some experience of the effects of terrorism. And all the leaders, as they will indicate a little bit later, share our complete resolution to defeat this terrorism.

It’s particularly barbaric that this has happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa and the long-term problems of climate change in the environment. Just as it is reasonably clear that this is a terrorist attack, or a series of terrorist attacks, it’s also reasonably clear that it is designed and aimed to coincide with the opening of the G-8. There will be time to talk later about this. It’s important, however, that those engaged in terrorism realize that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world.

Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilized nations throughout the world.

The BBC is reporting that a web site has posted a statement that claims al-Qaeda was behind the attacks. Another victim of the train blast, Loyita Worly, described her experience this morning.

  • Loyita Worly, victim of subway blast
    "There was just a big bang, and all the lights went and the ash started falling in. The smell of burning and everything in the carriage. Some people panicked. Most people kept calm. We couldn’t move anywhere because it was a rush hour and everybody was standing on the train. We heard people shouting for help."

Question: How did you feel?
"I’m quite a calm kind of person so i was ok. My main fear was–I didn’t know what it was. I was wondering it was a fire. And I did think if it was a fire it was going to be it, really. But there was nothing we could do about it. We couldn’t move we were just stuck. They called for medics. And they said some people on the other carriages were pretty badly hurt."

Q: Did you see anyone?
"Not at that point but we had to walk down the track pass the wreckage."

Q: What kind of wreckage?
"At that point I assumed it was a bomb because it looked like it was blown from the inside out."

Q: How bad was the damage?
"It was extensive. There was wreckage on the track. Whether the rescuers have pulled the side off–I don’t know. The whole one side of the tube (carriage) was on the track. Large panel of the side of the carriage... And they were bringing people out, they were naked, they were black but alive. Cloths have all been blown off and they were just black."

Q: How quickly were the emergency services there?
"I think 10 minutes or so. Everyone was trying to pull the alarm cords but they have already been triggered. I assume the communication lines with the driver have gone. We just didn’t know what has happened or what was happening. The people were really good actually. The people stationed themselves at the doors to stop stampedes. And one man went from the very back carriage. Well, the carriage where it happened. And he made his way to the driver to try and get help as soon possible because there were some badly injured people over there."

Q: Could you guess how many people were hurt in this?
"I Don’t know. Some of them must have been taken off the train before we walked pass by the carriage. But I saw at least one body lying on the floor of the carriage."

Q: Were there injured?
"I don’t know. They were not trying to shift them so I don’t know whether they were injured or dead."

Q: What happened after that?
"Eventually we managed to get through to the front–the driver’s carriage, and they got us down onto the track. But than we had to walk up the track past the damage up top Aldgate where they siphoned us off. They were brilliant than. They took us over to the area by the bus garage and they had some double-decker buses and they treated the seriously wounded in the buses. They took everyone’s names."

Q: Where were you when it happened?
"Between Liverpool street and Aldgate, in the tunnel."

Q: How far did you have to walk?
"When you got out of the train you could actually see the light of the Aldgate tube station. People were in shock. Walking along the tunnel and seeing the devastation, and knowing that by the grace of God it was not you was a trauma by itself, really. So I was just saying: keep going, keep looking, we are ok."

We go live to London to speak with:

  • Tony Benn, former British Labor MP, speaking from London
  • Omar Waraich, independent journalist and student in London

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZALEZ: A train passenger, who identified himself as Angelo Power, described his experience during the blast.

ANGELO POWER: People started to scream because there was a burning smell, and everyone, to cut a long story short, thought they were going to die. People started saying prayers, praying to God, panicking, breaking the carriage windows with their bare hands, anything to get oxygen into the carriage, because the more people tried, the more distressed they became, women passing out. People started getting very agitated. There was no communication from any drivers.

Everyone was in pitch black, then the emergency lights came on. And more and more smoke started coming into the carriage. And we were there for something like twenty to thirty minutes, during which the smoke intensified, the screaming intensified, the hysteria — and that’s what it was — became almost to a state of pandemonium. Then eventually somebody said that someone at the back of the carriage, because I was on the second to the back carriage, had managed to force the door open. But they wouldn’t get out, because they thought they were going to be electrocuted by the live train lines. Then smoke was coming down the tunnels, so nobody would go out that exit, no one would go out the other exit, because as I understand it, there was a bomb in the middle of the carriage. So we were all trapped like sardines waiting to die, and I honestly thought my time was up.

But I survived, as did everyone else, and finally, after about thirty minutes or so, people started to leave the carriage, and to their credit, in a very controlled manner. But as I exited, I saw people’s belongings scattered all over the place. People were physically injured, and the carriage windows were all smashed. There were no emergency people on hand to escort anyone off the trains, save for two officers who had arrived thirty minutes or so. But the question I ask is: Why was the train allowed to proceed from Manor House when they knew , or must have known, that these things were going on? It’s just almost negligent.

REPORTER: And what did you see of the medical operation that’s unfolding down there?

ANGELO POWER: There was none at first, because everyone said it was a technical failure, and it wasn’t, you know? There was just mass communication failure. And given what’s passed before in Madrid, I’m really at a loss to say why this was. It was clear from people who were exiting what had happened. There were emergency services there, but I think in hindsight, which is always a great factor, that things could have been done a lot better perhaps, but I can’t say really any more than that, except, you know, I’m, as you can probably tell, I’m shocked myself.

REPORTER: You’re — sure, I can see that your skin has been discolored by the blackness of the smoke and your lips. In some respect, sir, a lucky escape for you. What about the others that you saw?

ANGELO POWER: The others I saw, physical injuries, some had marks to the face. The carriage windows had punctured their skin. Others were physically lying on the floor, because they basically suffered smoke inhalation. Others in the main carriage, as I understand, are severely injured, if not dead. So, but at the end of the day, I honestly thought I was going to die. I’m just grateful to be alive.

REPORTER: It is looking increasingly as though this was a concerted terror attack. What do you think about the people behind this, having lived through this nightmare yourself today?

ANGELO POWER: Well, as a barrister, all I can say is, you know, I wait for the evidence before I can make any or jump to any conclusions as to who it may be. But all I can say is, you know, whoever’s responsible for it, I take pity on them.

REPORTER: Pity?

ANGELO POWER: Yeah, pity, because whoever has perpetrated such a wicked act, you know, needs pity, right?

JUAN GONZALEZ: That was train passenger, Angelo Power, a London barrister caught up in the attacks this morning. British Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke several hours after the explosions from the G8 Summit in Scotland.

TONY BLAIR: It’s reasonably clear that there have been a series of terrorist attacks in London. There are obviously casualties, both people that have died and people seriously injured. And our thoughts and prayers, of course, are with the victims and their families.

It’s my intention to leave the G8 within the next couple of hours and go down to London and get a report face to face with the police and the emergency services and the ministers that have been dealing with this, and then to return later this evening. It is the will of all of the leaders at the G8, however, that the meeting should continue in my absence, that we should continue to discuss the issues that we were going to discuss and reach the conclusions which we were going to reach.

Each of the countries around that table have some experience of the effects of terrorism, and all of the leaders, as they will indicate a little bit later, share our complete resolution to defeat this terrorism. It’s particularly barbaric that this has happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa and the long term problems of climate change in the environment. Just as this is reasonably clear that this is a terrorist attack or a series of terrorist attacks, it’s also reasonably clear that it is designed and aimed to coincide with the opening of the G8. There will be time to talk later about this.

It’s important, however, that those engaged in terrorism realize that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world. Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilized nations throughout the world.

AMY GOODMAN: That was British Prime Minister Tony Blair speaking from the G8 Summit at the Gleneagles resort in Scotland. He was speaking following a series of explosions on London trains and buses. As we turn now to another witness, Loyita Worly in London.

LOYITA WORLY: There was just a big bang, and all the lights went, and then ash started falling, and there was the smell of burning and everything in the carriage. And some people panicked, and some people — most people kept calm. We couldn’t move anywhere because it was rush hour; everybody was standing on the train. We heard people shouting for help.

REPORTER: How did you feel?

LOYITA WORLY: I’m quite a calm kind of person, so I was okay. My main fear was I didn’t know what it was. I was wondering if it was a fire. And I did think that if there’s a fire, then that was probably going to be it, really. But, you know, there was nothing we could do about it. We couldn’t move anywhere, we were just stuck. They called for medics. And they said that some people on one of the other carriages were pretty badly hurt.

REPORTER: Did you see anyone yourself?

LOYITA WORLY: Not at that point, but we had to walk down the track past the wreckage, so at that point I did.

REPORTER: You say wreckage, what sort of wreckage?

LOYITA WORLY: At that point I think assumed it was a bomb because it looked like it had blown from the inside out.

REPORTER: How bad was that damage?

LOYITA WORLY: It looked pretty — it was extensive. There was wreckage on the track. Whether the rescuers had pulled the side off, I don’t know, because the whole side of the one side of the tube was on the track.

REPORTER: The whole side of a carriage had gone?

LOYITA WORLY: Well, no. A large panel of the side of the carriage. And they were bringing people out, who just, you know, were naked. They were black, but alive.

REPORTER: With — covered in blood?

LOYITA WORLY: Their clothes had all been blown off, and they were just black.

REPORTER: How quickly were the emergency services there?

LOYITA WORLY: I think probably, I don’t know, ten minutes or so. Everyone was trying to pull the alarm cords but they had already been triggered. And that’s the worst thing, because you don’t know. I presume that the, you know, the communication line with the driver had gone, as well, because we couldn’t — we just didn’t know what had happened or what was happening. The people were really good actually. People stationed themselves at the door to stop stampedes. And one man went from the very back carriage — well, the carriage where it happened, and he — everybody made way for him to go up to the driver and try and get help as soon possible, because there were some very badly injured people.

REPORTER: Can you guess how many people were hurt in this?

LOYITA WORLY: I don’t know, because I think some of them must have been taken off before we walked past by the carriage. But there were certainly — I saw at least one body lying on the floor of the carriage.

REPORTER: Somebody injured or —?

LOYITA WORLY: They looked — no. They weren’t trying to treat them. I don’t know whether they were injured or dead. I don’t know.

REPORTER: What happened after that?

LOYITA WORLY: Eventually we managed to get through to the front — well, it wasn’t, it was the back — but the driver’s carriage, and they got us down onto the track. But then, as I say, we had to walk up the track past the damage up to Aldgate where they took us. They siphoned us off then. They were all there then. They were brilliant then. They took us over to the area by the bus garage and they had some double-decker buses and they treated the seriously wounded in the buses. They took everybody’s names.

REPORTER: So where were you when this happened?

LOYITA WORLY: It was between Liverpool Street and Aldgate, in the tunnel.

REPORTER: And how far did you have to walk? Was it a long walk to Aldgate?

LOYITA WORLY: No. I mean, that was the best thing, because when you got out of the train you could actually see the lights at Aldgate tube station. Because, I mean, a lot of people, I think, found that the walking along the tunnel — well, I mean, I was definitely in shock, you know, walking along the tunnel and seeing the devastation and knowing that but for the grace of God that, you know, could be you. It was a trauma in itself, really. So I was just saying, you know, just keep going, keep looking, and we’re okay.

AMY GOODMAN: Loyita Worly is a witness to the explosions this morning in London. We go to break; when we come back, we’ll go directly to London to speak with independent journalist and student, Omar Waraich. We’ll also be joined by long-time British Parliamentarian, Tony Benn.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: On the line with us from Britain is former long-time British Parliamentarian, Tony Benn. M.P. Tony Benn, who joins us now as we talk about these developments in London, the latest, the series of explosions that took place in the underground, in the subways, as well as on buses. Can you talk about where you are, Tony Benn, and your reaction?

TONY BENN: I was doing a television interview when my daughter rang and said, "Are you safe?" And I didn’t know what she meant, and I turned on the television and heard, as I rang all my children. One of them is a minister on his way to Gleneagles, and others are safe. And everyone was ringing everyone else to find out if they’re safe. But it is something long expected, and the casualties at the moment are miniscule compared to what happened on 9/11 or what’s happened in Fallujah, but they’re all casualties of the war.

AMY GOODMAN: You know, as we watch this in the United States unfold, the British press early in the morning very careful not to use the word "terrorism," saying possibly a power surge, the British police getting on and saying there has been a major incident, really it was only when Tony Blair spoke from the G8 Summit, where he identified this as an act of international terrorism.

TONY BENN: Yes, well, undoubtedly that is what it was. I mean, I heard the news at the moment you describe, when they said it was just a little problems here and there, but it has been a very carefully planned attack to correspond with Gleneagles, maybe just after London wins the Olympics, as well, but it would have been planned for a long time. And, of course, the response we’re getting from the Prime Minister is exactly like the President’s speech the other day to the soldiers he addressed: We’ll never resist, we’ll never give way, we’ve got to win. But the trouble is when you think about it, you realize that hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, well over a hundred thousand as a result of this war, and at some stage you have to ask yourself, "How can we end the violence?" It’s not the terrorism just, it’s the violence, because terrorism and bombing are the same. The suicide bomber and the stealth bomber both kill innocent people for political purposes. And you have to turn your mind to how you deal with this.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Now, also, as you’re probably aware, we’ve gotten reports that a senior Israeli official has been quoted widely as saying that the British police told the Israeli embassy in London minutes before today’s explosions that they had received warnings of possible terror attacks in the city. Any more news that you’ve been hearing about that allegation?

TONY BENN: No, I haven’t. But, I mean, London has been on a high alert since 9/11, because the commissioner of the police in London did say some time ago, and everybody understood it, London is a target. And after Madrid, of course, we thought of ourselves as the principle ally of the United States in the Iraq war as an obvious target. And this has been carefully planned. What’s so interesting about it, it’s a very low-level attack, if you know what I mean, in technological terms. It’s not like the complexity of 9/11, where the planes, where people to entrain to fly and all the rest of it. This is just the suicide bombing of the kind you read about every day in the Middle East all over the world.

AMY GOODMAN: Tony Benn, we’re also joined by an independent journalist and student in London, Omar Waraich. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Omar.

OMAR WARAICH: Thank you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Where were you at the time of the blast, and what do you understand at this point? What are you seeing around you?

OMAR WARAICH: Well, I was at home. I was about to make my way toward Central London, and then I started receiving phone calls, as Mr. Benn did himself, from friends and family, asking if I was okay. I quickly went back and switched on the news to see a space of bombing throughout the center of London and, in effect, in key areas. There’s one that was a train on the way from Aldgate East to Liverpool Street, which is the financial district. Then they were disrupted. There were explosions that took place in Bloomsbury, which is sort of considered — it’s also the heart of London, also the intellectual heart of London, where the British Museum is located, several universities and so forth. And now we have reports that on a bus that was torn apart, people are saying that perhaps it was a suicide bomb that was on that bus. And then, oddly enough, there was another explosion at Edgware Road station, which is a heavily-populated Arab area of London, within the center of London. That has caused great concern. At the moment, mobile phone lines are jammed everywhere. People are trying to make sense of the situation. The Home Secretary, Charles Clark, has just addressed Parliament, confirmed that there have been four explosions thus far. And the conservatives and everyone has condemned these attacks so far. They have said that it’s a terrorist attack, but they haven’t apportioned blame to anyone yet.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And in terms — there’s no indication yet that there’s any possibility of chemical or biological attack, which would obviously be the even much bigger concern and potential catastrophic nature of an attack.

OMAR WARAICH: No, nothing of that sort has been said. As Mr. Benn stated earlier, first there was a call given out to allay fear, saying it was power surges, and then only later when Charles Clark made his announcement outside Downing Street that it was a terrorist act was that confirmed. Repeated later by Tony Blair, who then took a stand with the rest of the G8 leaders at Gleneagles to reaffirm Mr. Clark’s statement.

AMY GOODMAN: Tony Benn, also on the line with us, former British M.P. with the Labour Party. Here you have Tony Benn making this address from the G8 Summit which he is — Tony Blair, which he is presiding over. He will leave there and then, he says, go back. He says no matter what, this meeting will not be derailed, as they talk about improving the situation, he said, in Africa and other such issues. Your response?

TONY BENN: Yes, well, I mean, the Gleneagles summit has been highlighted because the Prime Minister has made a big issue of climate change in Africa. Everybody’s disgusted with that big concert, Bob Geldof, and people have been organizing events to raise awareness. And, of course, the Prime Minister has said the Iraq war is behind us, put it behind us, and now people realize it isn’t behind us. It’s a immediate situation, and I think it will lead to a major rethink, because you’ll remember if we go back to what happened in Madrid, Aznar was one of the great supporters of the President in the war, and then after the elections, Zapatero came in and withdrew the Spanish troops. And I think in time, though it’s much too soon to speak in these terms, the political consequence of this will be two-fold. First of all, there will be tightened security, which means that —

AMY GOODMAN: Tony Benn, I’m going to interrupt for a minute to get your response to — President Bush is speaking right now from Gleneagles, from the G8 Summit. Let’s just join him live.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: …will not yield to the terrorists. We will find them. We will bring them to justice. And at the same time we will spread an ideology of hope and compassion that will overwhelm their ideology of hate. Thank you very much.

REPORTER: You are still saying that the war is —

AMY GOODMAN: President Bush, walking away, not taking questions. We’ll try to play a little more of it for you in a minute. He just spoke for a few minutes. Tony Benn, your response? You got the gist: we will bring the terrorists to justice.

TONY BENN: Well, this is the standard response. I mean, if you go back to an earlier attack — if I remember, I was on Spain. What happened was Zapatero was elected and the Spanish troops were withdrawn from Iraq, and I think there will undoubtedly be, as there now increasingly is in the United States itself, a questioning of the war. And when you’re attacked, you’ll always say what the Prime Minister said and Bush said last week. You always had the same, that this attack will strengthen our resolve and in the blitz in London when I was a fourteen-year-old when we were being bombed, Churchill said, 'We will fight them on the beaches,' and so on. That’s what you say when you’re under attack. But at the same time history shows that in the end, where you have a war of this magnitude and the number of casualties all over the place, people are bound to say, 'Well, what is the way out?' And it’s too early to talk in those terms today, because people are so absorbed with the casualties, the tragedies, the deaths, the bereavements, but they will start asking this question in the hope that the Iraq war could be put behind, the Prime Minister has been proved to be absolutely wrong.

AMY GOODMAN: Speaking with a long-time British M.P., Tony Benn, of the Labour Party, a former M.P. We’re also joined in our studio by Bob Herbert, Op-Ed columnist with The New York Times, has a new book out called Promises Betrayed: Waking Up from the American Dream. But before we go to Bob, let’s just play the beginning of what President Bush just said.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: This morning, I have been in contact with our Homeland Security folks. I instructed them to be in touch with local and state officials about the facts of what took place here in London and to be extra vigilant as our folks start heading to work. The contrast between what we’ve seen on the TV screens here, what’s taking place in London, what’s taking place here is incredibly vivid to me. On the one hand, you got people here who are working to alleviate poverty and to help rid the world of the pandemic of AIDS. They’re working on ways to have clean environment. And on the other hand, you got people killing innocent people. And the contrast couldn’t be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those of us who care deeply about human rights and human liberty and those who kill, those who have got such evil in their heart that they — they will take the lives of innocent folks. This is — the war on terror goes on. I was most impressed by the resolve of the — all the leaders in the room. Their resolve is as strong as my resolve, and that is we will not yield to these people, will not yield to the terrorists. We will find them. We will bring them to justice. And at the same time we will spread an ideology of hope and compassion that will overwhelm their ideology of hate. Thank you very much.

AMY GOODMAN: President Bush, speaking from Gleneagles resort, where the G8 Summit is taking place. We’re joined by Tony Benn on the phone from Britain, by Bob Herbert, Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times in our studio. The latest news we have at the time of this broadcast: Two people confirmed dead, more than a hundred injured. And the BBC is reporting that an Islamist website claims links to al-Qaeda, says it’s behind the attacks. Bob Herbert, your comments on what’s happening and the comment of President Bush?

BOB HERBERT: Well, the first thing, of course, is that your hearts go out to the people in London. Anybody who went through what we went through here in New York on September 11, 2001, knows how terrifying this can be. You hope that the casualties can be kept as low as possible. The thing that immediately struck me when I was watching this on television this morning was that I have felt ever since September 11 that it’s clear that the enemy of the U.S. and its allies are the terrorists, and that we need to have been focusing, continue to focus like a laser beam on fighting the scourge of terrorism here and around the world. And you can only do this successfully with alliances, so what you want to do is build bridges and alliances so that you can provide as much as possible a united front on that. And I’m not sure we’ve taken the wisest route so far, but this may be yet another wake-up call for us.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And in terms of the impact, obviously, here, as you say, for those of us who went through 9/11, clearly — I think Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was announcing he’s going to have an announcement on increased security in the New York subway systems, and after the Madrid attacks and now the London attacks, clearly there is a heightened sense that — of the vulnerability of having the biggest subway system here in the world right here in New York City.

BOB HERBERT: We’re extremely vulnerable. I mean, the U.S. is a fundamentally open society, which is just another reason why you have to remain so focused on the problem at hand. I mean, what I’m talking about is, you know, foreign adventures that are unnecessary, namely the war in Iraq. You have a subway system in New York City, but all kinds of other vulnerabilities here in the city and around the country. We see what’s going on in London today. We saw what happened in Spain. And what I would really like to see is the wisest minds — this should not be a political issue, it should not be a Republican or Democratic issue — I would like to see the wisest minds in this country call together to try and find out what would be the best route for us to pursue going ahead. And, as I mentioned before, that whatever that route is it would have to involve extensive diplomacy and alliances with our allies overseas. I have not seen that happening. We’re spending five billion dollars a month, I guess it is, in this war in Iraq — there’s no end in sight —when in fact the real scourge is terrorism.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Bob Herbert, Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, author of the book Promises Betrayed: Waking Up from the American Dream. Tony Benn also on the line with us, British Parliamentarian, former M.P. in Britain.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: The latest news, a series of bomb blasts ripping through the London subway system today at rush hour, as well as through some buses. The latest news we have, Scotland Yard is saying the explosions occurred at Edgware Road, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, Russell Square, Aldgate East and Moorgate. That might not have much meaning to people here in the United States, except for the fact that explosions did happen. All of the London underground and bus services in central London have been indefinitely halted. The B.B.C. is reporting that an Islamic website that claims links to al-Qaeda says it was behind the attacks. Two people have been confirmed dead, more than 100 injured.

We’re joined in our studio by New York Times Op-Ed columnist, Bob Herbert, author of the book, Promises Betrayed. And on the line with us, Omar Waraich, an independent journalist and student in London and the former British M.P., Tony Benn. Let’s get final comments from both of you in Britain, as we move on with stories here that may or may not be related, but certainly relate to the war in Iraq. Omar Waraich, your final comment today as these developments continue.

OMAR WARAICH: Well, it seems troubling from President Bush’s statements that there’s no reflective moment being taken at this stage. What I’m particularly concerned about is the attacks that may follow on the huge Muslim community that is — that exists here in Britain. Following September 11, civil liberties were curtailed to a great extent. People were arrested. Stop and searches went up 300% within that community. Let’s hope that that racial profiling does not exacerbate further and, as Mr. Benn said, this is a result of the Iraq war and Britain’s participation in it.

AMY GOODMAN: And Tony Benn?

TONY BENN: Well, it is a product of the war. I think of everyone killed everywhere as a product of the war, every Palestinian, every Israeli, every Iraqi, every Afghan, every American, every Spaniard, every Britain is a victim of the war. And I suppose our immediate concern is to protect London, obviously. That’s our thought to look after the people who have been injured and the bereaved, but you do have to think about this. And when I hear the President and the Prime Minister saying, we will beat them, we will beat them, they are full of hate, and we are not, and we are killing people there, I think it will inevitably ask — lead people to think and ask: Is there another way forward? And I was with Scott Ritter last night, whom you know very well, talking about the decent Americans who are really concerned and worried about what’s happening, and with the casualties you are suffering, enormous, what is it, 1,750 service men and women killed and 8,000, 7 to 8,000 injured, bound to consider this and to ask, is this the only way? Is it really necessary that we should continue as if there’s no alternative? What is the alternative? What could you do. Are there injustices that if they were resolved might ease the tension? But the tragedy is innocent people are killed. And that is people’s first concern, but I feel the same for people bombed in Baghdad as I do in London or New York. I’m bound to.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you both very much for being with us. Tony Benn, former British M.P., speaking to us from Britain, and Omar Waraich, independent journalist from London, where the bomb blasts or where the blasts have taken place. Again, waiting for full explanation of that. And as that situation continues to unfold in Britain, B.B.C. reporting two people confirmed dead, the Sydney Morning Herald reporting 12 people confirmed dead, these developments will continue. More than 100 injured.

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