Britain may face more bombers -police chief
By Michael Holden and Katherine Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) – London’s police chief warned that a new
wave of bombers could be poised to strike Britain as nine more
people were arrested on Thursday in a massive manhunt for train
and bus attackers.
“This is a campaign we are facing, it is not a one-off
event,” Commissioner Ian Blair told Londoners already jittery
after two attacks on the city’s transport system.
Police are still hunting three of four men wanted for
trying to detonate bombs in failed attacks on July 21, exactly
two weeks after a team of suspected Islamist militant bombers
killed themselves and 52 other people in the capital.
“It does remain possible that those at large will strike
again. It does also remain possible that there are other cells
that are capable and intent on striking again,” Blair said.
“This is not the B-team, these weren’t the amateurs,” Blair
said of the second group of attackers. “They made a mistake.
They only made one mistake and we’re very, very lucky.”
Police arrested nine men in Tooting, south London, on
Thursday morning, bringing to 20 the number of people being
held in connection with the failed July 21 attacks.
Police said the nine did not include the three suspected
bombers they are still hunting. They used a stun gun to arrest
one of the prime suspects, Yasin Hassan Omar, in a dawn raid in
the city of Birmingham on Wednesday.
Omar, 24, came to Britain from Somalia as a child refugee.
He was wanted in connection with an attempted attack at
London’s Warren Street underground station on July 21.
CONCERN AT RACE ATTACKS
Muslim groups said attacks on Asians and religious
minorities in London have leapt more than 500 percent since the
suicide bomb attacks on the capital three weeks ago.
Across Britain one man has been murdered, one mosque
firebombed, a Sikh temple attacked and other buildings and
individuals targeted, the Muslim Safety Forum (MSF), an
umbrella group of Muslim organizations which advises the
Commissioner Blair said police were determined to tackle
racially and religiously motivated crimes, but that such crimes
remained at a very low level for a large city.
He described the hunt for the bombers and their backers as
his force’s biggest operational challenge since World War II.
“I do ask for your understanding around the level of
exhaustion now sitting in the Metropolitan Police Service,” he
told London’s police authority.
“I am looking at some very tired men and women.”
He said police were reviewing 15,000 closed circuit
television tapes, had taken 1,800 witness statements and
received 5,000 calls on their anti-terrorism hotline.
Police swarmed across the city where residents have become
used to the wail of sirens in recent weeks as members of the
public report abandoned packages or people acting suspiciously.
Officers, some brought in from outside London, patrolled
the streets outside stations, an unusual sight for commuters.
British Transport Police said some leave had been canceled
as the force stepped up its high-profile campaign.
Opinion polls show a majority of Britons fear Islamist
militants could target their country in a sustained campaign.
As the public remains on edge, newspapers published
front-page pictures of a ready-made nail bomb found in the boot
of a car that had been rented by one of the July 7 attackers.
They showed a bottle studded with nails to act as shrapnel.
But a police spokeswoman denied a report there were 16
ready-made bombs in the car. Apart from the nail bomb,
investigators found bits of explosives and other components.