London Jittery as Police Arrest Third Man | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 25.07.2005
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London Jittery as Police Arrest Third Man

Londoners faced tense underground train trips to work Monday fearing that at least four suicide bombers are still on the loose, despite the arrest of a third man by police who are still defending a shoot-to-kill policy.


London commuters are on edge

Three men have been arrested in south London under anti-terrorist laws since Friday, but British police remain tight-lipped about their identities and their alleged roles in the conspiracy. However, none of the bombers are thought to be among them.

The Times, quoting unnamed police sources, said a fifth bomber could be on the loose, and more heavily armed undercover police would be deployed in the investigation. It said a suspect package found in a west London park on Saturday contained a fifth abandoned explosive device, suggesting another bomber was at large.

Polizei schießt auf Selbstmordattentäter Stockwell

Police outside Stockwell station

Police were reportedly sending more armed officers onto the streets of London in search of the bombers who tried to blow up three underground trains and a bus last week, in a repeat of a suicide attack by four other men which killed 56 people including the bombers on July 7.

Police stick by shoot-to-kill policy

As the probe into the bombings gained momentum, London police were also struggling to defend a shoot-to-kill policy which cost the life of a Brazilian electrician who was shot dead after police mistook him for a suicide bomber on Friday.

Jean Charles de Menezes, Porträt, fälschlicherweise in London erschossen

Jean Charles de Menezes

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, on a trip to London, demanded a "full investigation" into the killing of 27-year-old Jean Charles de Menezes.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw Straw spoke by telephone with Amorim on Sunday to express his regrets, but said police must have recourse to lethal force to stop a suicide bomber triggering his device.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair apologized for the Menezes shooting but also stressed that police had to act decisively when confronted with such a threat. "The only way to deal with this is to shoot to the head," he said. The commissioner also refused to rule out further tragic mistakes in the hunt for suicide terrorists, saying: "Somebody else could be shot."

Terrified passengers scattered in panic as plain-clothed police chased Menezes through Stockwell Underground station in south London on Friday after he failed to stop when challenged. Witnesses said the Brazilian looked "like a cornered rabbit" when he fell to the floor in a train carriage and was shot five times in the head by plain-clothed police.

"Public trust shaken"

As with all police-related deaths, the Independent Police Complaints Commission will investigate the shooting but Islamic groups, worried that Muslims could be targeted, have called for a public inquiry.

Nach den Anschlägen: Handgepäck von Fahrgästen der Londoner U-Bahn wird untersucht

Police officers, search the bag of a commuter at London Bridge train station

On Monday, the British press said the shooting raised "troubling questions" about the conduct of the police investigation and could not have come at a worse time for community relations.

"Now public trust in the police in ethnic communities, which holds a key to identifying terrorists, has understandably been badly shaken," The Guardian said in an editorial.

The Daily Telegraph reflected growing public anxiety about the failure of the police to catch the bombers despite the massive manhunt. "We have their images on camera as well as the bombs they left behind... Yet, at the time of going to press, all four bombers seem to be still on the loose," it wrote.

As the controversy over the shooting raged, the police commissioner said the investigation was advancing quickly and detectives believed that the four suspects in Thursday's attacks were still in Britain. The paper added that "troubling questions" hung over the police service. "We ask whether the Met is getting the leadership it deserves," it said.

Wealth of evidence

Videobild vom Attentäter, Yasin Hassan Omar, von der Warren Street

One of the suspects in an image captured on CCTV

Unconfirmed reports said the wanted men were believed to be of east African origin and were associates of the four July 7 suicide bombers, identified by police as British-born Muslims of Pakistani descent and a Jamaican-born Briton who had converted to Islam.

A wealth of evidence has been gathered from the abandoned bombs. Police are hoping the investigation will catch not only the bombers but the masterminds behind them. Documents found in one of the abandoned rucksacks have reportedly led police toward a possible link between the two groups of attackers, although so far only circumstantial connections have been made public.

Some of the suspected bombers from Thursday are believed to have gone on a whitewater rafting "bonding" trip in Wales with two of the July 7 bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shahzad Tanweer.

Police said Saturday that almost 500 people had called them after they released security camera images of the four suspected bombers, which have been plastered all over London.

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