Re: London Terrorist Attack
Interesting observation. Here is an update from ABC news:
Last Update: Friday, July 8, 2005. 2:32pm (AEST)
Damaged cars in Tavistock Square, London after several blasts hit
Damaged cars in Tavistock Square, London after several blasts hit (Reuters )
Fifty dead in London bombings: Howard
Australian Prime Minister John Howard says he believes the death toll from London's terrorist bombings has reached 52, with hundreds injured.
Mr Howard says seven Australians are being treated in hospital, including one who is in critical condition.
"In the nature of things, sadly the death toll is likely to climb," Mr Howard said.
The peak-hour attacks happened as the Group of Eight (G8) rich nations held a summit at Gleneagles in Scotland.
"The attacks will resonate particularly with millions of Australians," Mr Howard said. "There is no city outside our own cities better known to generations of Australians than the city of London.
"The location of the attacks are locations familiar to so many of us. This brutal, indiscriminate, unforgivable attack on innocent people going about their daily lives is a mark of the depraved character of the people who carried it out."
Mr Howard says it is too early to say who is responsible for the attacks, though there are clear similarities with last year's Madrid attacks and past Al Qaeda operations.
"Clearly, it is a terrorist group," the Prime Minister said. "There are similarities between this attack and the attack in Madrid, not least of course and most obviously that it was an attack on the rail network of a major city.
"The latest advice I have through the discussions with the British intelligence is it's just too early to make a judgment but the link with the G8 seems inescapable and the method, the sequencing, the timing of the attacks, all of that bears a very close similarity to the methodology that was employed in Madrid."
Mr Howard added: "There are obviously great similarities with past Al Qaeda activities. I can't tell you whether it's definitely an Al Qaeda operation. It could be. It could be an operation of an outfit that mimics Al Qaeda but has only a loose association with it or it could be another terrorist group."
He says the London attacks were not just attacks on Western Christians but that people of many different religions - and no religion - would be among the victims.
Australian alert level
Mr Howard says Australia remains a terrorism target, though there is no specific intelligence that the threat to Australia is any higher in the wake of the London blasts.
He says Australia's national anti-terrorism committee met shortly after the blasts but unanimously decided against any change to the alert level in Australia, which remains at medium.
"We do not have any specific intelligence of any kind suggesting that because this attack has taken place then it's more likely that there will be an attack on the Australian homeland," Mr Howard said.
"I must nonetheless say that this country could be the subject of an attack like this."
He added: "We will do everything within our power ... to prevent an attack occurring."
Mr Howard says he cannot say at this stage whether Australia will need to beef up security at its road and rail transport systems to match airport security.
"I find that question impossible to answer except to say that whatever security steps are needed and reasonable and proportionate to the potential threat ought to be adopted," he said.
Mr Howard says Australia will send six officials to the United Kingdom to help with the investigation into the blasts.
The team is made up three Australian Federal Police personnel, including a bomb expert and a counter-terrorism specialist, as well as one person from the Victoria police, one from the New South Wales police and one from the Department of Transport and Regional Services.
The Prime Minister says the bombings will not deter his travel plans this month, including a planned visit to the United Kingdom.
"It's more important than ever that I go there," Mr Howard said.
"It was an important time before the events of the last 24 hours [and] it's doubly important now because any suggestion that an attack like this would interfere with the exchanges that ought to go on at a head of government level between countries like Britain and Australia would be quite appalling."
Mr Howard has repeated that he believes the West still faces a long struggle in the war on terrorism but that it is making progress.
He says the Government is weighing its options on a return of Australian military personnel to Afghanistan.
Federal Opposition Leader Kim Beazley says Australia must remain aware that it is under threat from terrorists.
He says the attacks in London will not diminish Labor's support for the return of Australian troops to Afghanistan.
"Taliban and Al Qaeda elements exist and to some degree exist and are coming back in Afghanistan," Mr Beazley said.
"This is not acceptable. This is something that must be dealt with."