Terrorists have once again targeted London's mass transit system in an attempted attack that would have echoed the devastating quadruple suicide bombing two weeks ago if it had succeeded.The former attack killed at least 56 and wounded over 700. In this incident, at approximately 12:30 p.m. local time on July 21, four explosions were reported on three London Underground trains and a double-decker bus.
According to British officials, all four bombs failed to detonate on July 21 and the explosions were caused by the triggering mechanisms.Some experts say that the bombs were either made incorrectly or that they were too old to be functional.Shortly after evacuating the trains, investigators found four rucksacks carrying the relatively small bombs.Eyewitnesses on both the trains and the bus reported that they had seen would-be suicide bombers attempt to trigger bombs in their rucksacks and then flee after they were unsuccessful.
Thursday's synchronized bombings bore a striking resemblance to those on July 7.In that incident, suicide bombers also detonated their charges on three Underground trains and a bus.The explosions in both cases appear to have been intentionally placed on the four corners of the compass.The explosions occurred at Shepherd's Bush station in west London, Oval Station in the south, and Warren station in the north.The bus bombing took place on the number 26 bus in Hackney, in the eastern part of the city. British authorities have said that the bombers in both attacks used the same type of backpacks. It also appears that the bombs in both operations were likely home-made and composed of the same materials. Intelligence officials, however, are still unsure if or how the attacks are related.
An Al Qaeda-linked group has claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted to a website often used by Islamic terrorist groups.The Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigade, which is named after a top deputy of Osama Bin Laden's who was killed in Afghanistan in 2001, also claimed the July 7 bombings.Intelligence officials have been unable to determine the authenticity of the statement.
British police officials are hopeful that the unexploded materials may lead to a wealth of evidence about both attacks.In their two-week investigation of the July 7 incident, British police still have many questions regarding the execution of the attack. The Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, characterized the evidence found at the scenes of the July 21 attack as a "significant breakthrough."In accordance with eyewitness accounts of the men who carried the backpacks, Police are searching primarily for suspects who are most likely British of Pakistani descent.
In the aftermath of the bombings, several men were detained for questioning.
A series of coordinated suicide bombings hit Underground (subway) stations and at least one bus during the morning rush hour in
Initial reports indicate that at least 37 people have been killed and hundreds of others wounded.
One double-decker bus was ripped apart by an explosion at Tavistock Square.Three other explosions, which began at approximately local time, occurred at or near Underground stations.Authorities confirmed explosions between Aldgate East and Liverpool Street stations, between Russell Square and King's Cross stations and at Edgware Road station.
According to police, one bomb, aboard a train at Edgware Road, exploded as another train was passing, hitting that train as well.The entire Underground system was evacuated and closed by authorities after the attacks.
The Islamist Web site, Al Qalah (Arabic for "The Castle"), used by various Islamic militant groups to post propaganda messages and claims of responsibility for attacks, included a statement from "Group of the Secret Organization - Al Qaeda Organization of Jihad in Europe" claiming responsibility for the attacks.
"Heroic fighters of the Arab nation," the July 7 statement read, "it is time for revenge against the crusader and Zionist British government, in response to the massacre carried out by Great Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan."The posting also warned Italy and Denmark to pull their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The authenticity of the claim could not be immediately confirmed and it is still unclear whether the attacks were aimed at Britain for its military involvement in Iraq or for some other reason.Some observers suggest that the attacks were aimed to coincide with the opening of the G8 summit in Scotland, or the previous day's announcement that London will host the 2012 Olympic Games.
The last major attack in Europe, a series of bombings that targeted commuter trains in Madrid, Spain, in March 2004, killed 191 people and was claimed by Al Qaeda.