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Investigation into London Bombings Under Way

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Investigation into London Bombings Under Way


Investigation into London Bombings Under Way

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

British investigators say the three explosions on the London Underground Thursday occurred within seconds of each other. This bolsters the idea that the bombs were set off by timers. The subway attacks and the bombing of the double-decker bus in central London killed more than 50 people and injured more than 700. Forensics teams are still gathering evidence in train cars, and Metro Police say they are pursuing a number of leads. NPR's Anthony Kuhn joins us from London.

Anthony, thanks for being with us.

ANTHONY KUHN reporting:

Morning, Scott.

SIEGEL: And bring us up to date, please, on what more investigators know so far about what happened and if it leads to discovering perpetrators.

KUHN: Yes, well, the latest coming out of this press conference by the police and transportation authorities is that the explosions took place within seconds, virtually simultaneously at about 8:50 in the morning on Thursday. And originally it was believed that they were within an hour of each other. Now it turns out that software and systems in the Transport Authority monitored breakdowns within the system all happening at the same time. So that suggests a higher level of coordination and sophistication.

Also, witnesses have come forward. They've got the driver of the bus that blew up near Russell Square and they're questioning him. And also witnesses have come forward who say they saw shifty passengers fumbling with bags. We don't know what that's going to lead to.

Still no progress on the bombs. It's still known that they were under 10 pounds of conventional explosives and could have been set off by suicide bombers or other means. We don't know yet.

SIMON: The Secret Organization of al-Qaeda in Europe is the group that posted something on its Web site to claim responsibility, a group that people, certainly it was stated publicly, that investigators hadn't heard of before. Have any specific individuals' names surfaced as targets of investigation?

KUHN: Well, as far as that Secret Organization of al-Qaeda in Europe is concerned, the government says they're taking that claim of responsibility very seriously. But a lot of experts and analysts are wary about that and they say that when there is such an attack, a lot of unheard-of groups come out of the woodwork. And those claims have to be treated carefully. The police say at this point they're not looking for any named individuals; they're just pursuing certain lines of investigation. At the same time, a lot of names are being tossed about by the media and other experts, and they include people like Mohammed al-Gerbouzi, a British resident who is accused of involvement in bombings in Madrid and Casablanca before. And he recently disappeared from his London home. Also, the Iraqi-born London doctor who is said to run this Web site that had the claim.

But I think the more important question people are looking at right now is were these terrorists homegrown types or foreigners. And that will determine a lot of the political fallout, I think, from this whole episode.

SIMON: And let me ask about this. We've all heard over the past couple of days Prime Minister Blair, Mayor Livingstone, the chief of London police say...

KUHN: Yeah.

SIMON: ...the Muslims, citizens of London, are decent, law-abiding citizens. Yet at the same time, there are reports about incidents against Muslims in London, which has a huge Muslim community, and many people live in amity.

KUHN: That's correct. Many people in the Muslim community believe that the backlash is under way. Muslim leaders have met to talk about how to deal with this backlash. And there have been reports of attacks at a Sikh temple in Leeds and two assaults on Muslim men in Darford, Kent. So there is evidence of a backlash under way.

SIMON: NPR's Anthony Kuhn in London, thanks very much.

KUHN: Thanks, Scott.

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