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Terrorism hits london says blair { July 7 2005 }

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Tony Blair: it’s terrorism
By FT reporters
Published: July 7 2005 09:48 | Last updated: July 7 2005 13:09

Multiple explosions on the London Underground and on at least one bus have killed two and left dozens with “terrible injuries” in what prime minister Tony Blair said was a co-ordinated terrorist attack timed to coincide with the G8 summit.

Mr Blair, speaking in Gleneagles, described the attack as “barbaric” but said the summit would continue. The prime minister is flying to the capital for a full briefing but will return to Scotland this evening.

“It’s reasonably clear there has been a series of terrorist attacks in London. Obviously there are casualties - both people who have died and people who are seriously injured,” he said.

Police said there were at least two deaths and up to 185 casualties. The first of the explosions was reported at 8.49am at Aldgate East tube station. Six other incidents were reported at Edgware Road station, King’s Cross, Old Street, Moorgate, Russell Square and Leicester Square.

The Metropolitan Police also confirmed there had been an explosion on at least one bus in Tavistock Square minutes after the blasts on the Underground.

“I saw lots of people running up a road and then saw the top of a bus destroyed,” an eyewitness told Sky News.

Early suggestions that the explosions may have been caused by an accidental surge in the electricity quickly gave way to evidence pointing to deliberate sabotage, amounting to the most serious terrorist attack in Europe since the attacks on the Madrid railway system in March last year.

Passengers spoke of hearing a “huge thud’’at Edgware Road station and travellers emerged from tunnels covered in blood and soot and with torn clothing.

An eyewitness at Aldgate East, where the two fatalities occured, saw smoke rising from the station and commuters with facial injuries and burns leaving as the area was evacuated. Police officers at the scene said there was evidence of an explosive device 200 metres down the track from the station.

The explosions shattered the euphoria generated by London’s successful bid for the Olympics and the renewed sense of national self-confidence.

Shares on the FTSE 100 fell 2.8 per cent - the biggest single day fall since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US - and the stock exchange eased rules on marketmakers after several trading floors were evacuated.

Across Europe, equity markets tumbled, while in the US, futures trade suggested the Dow Jones Industrial Average could fall by as much as 200 points at the Wall Street open. Oil prices tumbled 6.7 per cent as traders bet that the terrorist attacks in London would prompted a slowdown in economic growth.

The explosion, during the peak rush hour, caused massive disruption for commuters. Streets around the capital were packed with people attempting to find other ways of getting to work and mobile networks were jammed as people attempted to call their families and colleagues. The Underground network normally handles more than 3m passenger journeys a day.

Mr Blair, looking pale and strained, said the leaders of the G8 had all expressed their shock and sympathy over the attacks and would continue with their agenda of addressing African debt and global warming.

“It is important, however, that those engaged in terrorism realise 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 impose extremism on the world,” he said.

Reporting by Matthew Jones, Jimmy Burns, Christopher Adams, Bob Sherwood, Fiona Harvey, Carola Hoyos and James Mawson

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