British police have raised the death toll from Thursday’s bombing to 49 and the final total is expected to rise higher. Officials have only just begun identifying victims of the quadruple bombing that hit three subway cars and a double-decker bus during the morning commute on Thursday. “In total there are now 49 bodies in the mortuary. Body recovery teams continue to work through that train at Russell square,” British police detective Andy Trotter said yesterday. “They’ve worked through the front carriage, they’re now attempting to get through to the rear of the train, to see if there are any more bodies trapped underneath. As you can imagine the working conditions are extremely difficult.”
On the investigation end, the British government has yet to identify who was behind the bombings. On Saturday investigators revealed that the three subway blasts occurred within a span of fifty seconds. Initial reports had the bombings occurring nearly a half hour apart. The Guardian of London reported last night that Britain’s security alert had been raised to its highest level–“severe specific” alert. The upgrading indicates that the security services believe that the perpetrators of the attack are still at large. The after effects of the bombings continue to be felt across the country. In the industrial city of Birmingham, police evacuated twenty thousand people on Saturday night for security reasons.
And the Independent of London is reporting that at least four mosques have been set on fire and that three other mosques have been attacked since Thursday. In South London, five white men were arrested after throwing bottles at the windows of a Sikh temple.
A British newspaper has obtained a secret plan written by the British Defense Secretary that appears to outline plans for the allied forces to withdraw the majority of its troops from Iraq by early next year. The memo states, “Emerging US plans assume fourteen out of eighteen provinces could be handed over to Iraqi control by early 2006, allowing a reduction in [Allied troops] from 176,000 down to 66,000.” The Washington Post reports the British memo is apparently the first time such a significant reduction has been outlined under a specific timetable. After the memo was leaked, British Defense Secretary John Reid tried to downplay its significance. He said, “No decisions on the future force posture of UK forces have been taken.”
At least 48 people died on Sunday in a series of suicide attacks. The deadliest incident occurred when a man strapped with explosives blew himself up at a military recruiting center killing 19 and injuring more than 40 people. Earlier today nine Iraqi soldiers were killed in a raid on a checkpoint in central Iraq.
The Iraqi government has begun investigating the deaths of nine Iraqi bricklayers who died in police custody. The bricklayers died from suffocation after being detained in a police van for 14 hours.
Iraq’s former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is warning that Iraq is on the verge of a civil war. In a recent interview with the Sunday Times of London he said “The problem is that the Americans have no vision and no clear policy on how to go about in Iraq. The policy should be of building national unity in Iraq. Without this we will most certainly slip into a civil war.” He went on to say “We are practically in stage one of a civil war as we speak.”
And the Iranian-American filmmaker Cyrus Kar has been released from prison in Iraq. For the past two months the 44-year-old U.S. citizen had been held without charges by the U.S. military. He was denied access to an attorney and kept in solitary confinement. The Los Angeles Times reports that he spent his days reading the Geneva Convention.
The Israeli government has announced that 55,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem will be cut off from the rest of the city once Israel finishes building a 400-mile wall through the West Bank. Palestinians have long called for Israel to stop building the wall because it divides Palestinian neighborhoods and essentially redraws the borders of the West Bank.
Last year the International Court of Justice ruled the wall to be illegal, but Israel has dismissed the ruling. On Saturday dozens of Palestinian and international activists staged a protest against the wall to mark the first anniversary of the court ruling. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at the protesters and blocked them from marching toward the construction site of the wall. One woman was dragged away by Israeli troops. Meanwhile in the West Bank village of Beit Likiya, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy was buried on Saturday. The teenager was shot on Friday by an armed Israeli guard who was shooting to disperse stone-throwing protesters at the building site of the West Bank wall.
In Arizona, the humanitarian group No More Deaths is holding an emergency press conference today following the arrest of two of its members. The group offers food and medical assistance to undocumented migrants who cross from Mexico into Arizona via the desert. On Saturday Border Patrol agents arrested two members of the group as they were driving three migrants, including a 13-year-old boy, to a local hospital for medical care. The two volunteers were charged with the felony of transporting an undocumented person and obstruction of justice. Last month the group said it helped rescue 175 migrants in distress in the desert. Since October it is estimated that 151 migrants have died while crossing the border.
On Sunday, hundreds of Greenpeace activists gathered in Paris to mark the 20th anniversary of the sinking of the organization’s ship the Rainbow Warrior. The ship sank in a New Zealand harbor on July 10, 1985 when an explosion ripped open its hull. Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira was killed in the incident. The ship was preparing to head to sea to protest against French nuclear bomb tests in the South Pacific. Over the weekend, the French newspaper Le Monde revealed that the late French President Francois Mitterrand personally approved the sinking of the ship. The paper has obtained a handwritten account of the ship’s sinking written by the former head of France’s spy agency that says Mitterrand had authorized the ship to be sunk. One former crew member of the Rainbow Warrior spoke at a commemoration ceremony on Sunday.
Over a million residents living near the Gulf of Mexico were forced to flee their homes this weekend to escape Hurricane Dennis. The hurricane killed at least 32 people in Cuba and Haiti but weakened considerably before it hit the Florida region on Sunday. Some 600,000 houses remain without power–mostly in Florida and Alabama. Dennis is the strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane to form in July since records began over 150 years ago. This comes as more scientists are making a link between global warming and hurricanes. Last month the National Center for Atmospheric Research released a report that determined hurricanes will become more intense as the temperature of the oceans increases and as the amount of atmospheric moisture grows due to global warming.
And singer Ray Davis has died at the age of 65. He was a founding member of the pioneering funk bands Parliament and Funkadelic.