LONDON (AP) – Investigators searched Friday for fingerprints, DNA and other forensic evidence collected from attacks on three subway trains and a double-decker bus that were hauntingly reminiscent of suicide bombings only two weeks before.
Jittery commuters – already facing cutbacks in service from the last attack – faced more Underground closures Friday as they adjusted to a renewed threat of terrorism. "People are worried, but if it”s going to happen, it”s going to happen isn”t it?" Chidi O”Hanekwu, 23, said Friday morning. Still, he said he found himself being "a bit more paranoid" on the ride in.
Mia Clarkson, 24, defiantly said she refused to change her schedule or commute at all. "You”ve got to keep living, don”t you?" she said as she exited the Chancery Lane station after a trip from across town.
Newspapers reflected the city”s volatile mood – part defiance, part anxiety.
"Britain will not be beaten," vowed a front-page headline in the Daily Express. "Is this how we must now live?" asked the Daily Mirror over pictures of the attacks” aftermath. The Independent had a similar photo montage and the words: "City of Fear."
Police would not comment on the search for suspects, but witnesses described seeing men fleeing several of the attack scenes.
Two men were detained – one near the scene of one attack and another near Prime Minister Tony Blair”s Downing Street residence – but both were later released without charge, police said.
The devices in Thursday”s attacks were either small or faulty, and authorities said the only reported injured was an asthma attack.
But the nearly simultaneous lunch-hour blasts agitated a capital on edge since the July 7 bombings that killed 52 people and four suspected suicide bombers.
"We can”t minimize incidents such as this," Blair said Thursday. "They”re done to scare people, to frighten them and make them worried."
Metropolitan Police appealed for witnesses to return to the scenes to give statements to teams of officers. Police also set up a Web site to receive amateur video and mobile telephone footage of the attacks and their aftermath.
"Clearly, the intention must have been to kill," Police Commissioner Ian Blair said. "You don”t do this with any other intention."
The agency that runs London”s transportation system, Transport for London, said the three affected subway stations remained closed Friday, and service was suspended on all or part of several lines. Other lines have been disrupted since the attacks two weeks ago.
Authorities said it was too early to determine whether the attacks were carried out by the same organization as the July 7 blasts – or whether they were linked to al-Qaida.
Saudi ambassador Prince Turki al-Faisal said the attacks had "all the hallmarks" of al-Qaida.
"The modus operandi, the sheer cowardice associated with them and the attacks on innocent civilians – these are all part and parcel of al-Qaida," he said in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. radio.
Michael Clarke, director of the Center for Defense Studies at King”s College, London, said Thursday”s attacks looked "very amateurish."
"It looks like determined imitators who perhaps must have planned this a little while ago … but it doesn”t look quite like the same network behind it," Clarke told BBC radio.
Harried passengers fled the three Underground stations in the center, south and west of the city at midday, some leaving their shoes behind in the scramble. Some witnesses on the Underground reported hearing a pop like a champagne cork burst; bus passengers reported a bang on the upper level.
Business analyst Abisha Moyo, 28, described hearing a bang and seeing a man lying atop a smoldering knapsack on the floor of his subway carriage at Warren Street station in central London.
"He had his eyes shut and there was a puff of smoke coming from the bag," Moyo was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail newspaper. "Some girls started screaming, the emergency cable was pulled and everyone started running away from him towards the front of the train."
Firefighters and police with bomb-sniffing dogs sealed off nearby city blocks and evacuated rows of restaurants, pubs and offices.
The police commissioner said forensic evidence collected from the crime scenes could provide a "significant break" in the latest attacks.
An armed police unit entered University College Hospital near Warren Street shortly after the midday incidents. Sky News TV reported that police were searching for a man with a blue shirt with wires protruding from his pocket.
By late Thursday, the hospital said police had completed a search of the facility, but added that three small rooms in an unoccupied part of the complex had been cordoned off.
The incidents paralleled the July 7 attacks on three Underground trains within a minute of each other starting at 8:50 a.m., followed by a bomb going off on a bus. All the explosions occurred in the city center.
Thursday”s incidents were more spread out and began at about 12:38 p.m.
The attacks, which targeted trains near the Warren Street, Oval and Shepherd”s Bush stations, did not shut down the subway system, only three of its lines. The double-decker bus had its windows blown out on Hackney Road in east London.
Subway passengers smelled an odor like burning rubber and began rushing through the cars of a moving train to get away from it. The Victoria Line train entered Warren Street station seconds later and hundreds of people streamed out onto the street, witnesses told The Associated Press.