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Britain pays tribute to victims on 10th anniversery of London bombings | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) and London Mayor Boris Johnson take part in a wreath-laying ceremony in London’s Hyde Park on July 7, 2015, in memory of the 52 victims of the 7/7 London attacks. (AFP Photo/Niklas Halle’n)


British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) and London Mayor Boris Johnson take part in a wreath-laying ceremony in London's Hyde Park on July 7, 2015, in memory of the 52 victims of the 7/7 London attacks. (AFP Photo/Niklas Halle'n)

British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) and London Mayor Boris Johnson take part in a wreath-laying ceremony in London’s Hyde Park on July 7, 2015, in memory of the 52 victims of the 7/7 London attacks. (AFP Photo/Niklas Halle’n)

London, Reuters/Asharq Al-Awsat—Prime Minister David Cameron led somber tributes on Tuesday as Britain commemorated the 10th anniversary of attacks that killed 56 people in London, the first suicide bombings by Islamist militants in western Europe.

Relatives of the victims, survivors, and senior politicians gathered to remember those killed in the July 7, 2005 bombings with emotions still raw after a massacre in Tunisia last month, Britain’s worst loss of life in a militant assault since the London attacks.

“Today the country comes together to remember the victims of one of the deadliest terrorist atrocities on mainland Britain,” Cameron said in a statement.

“Ten years on from the 7/7 London attacks, the threat from terrorism continues to be as real as it is deadly—the murder of 30 innocent Britons whilst holidaying in Tunisia is a brutal reminder of that fact. But we will never be cowed by terrorism.”

In the early hours of July 7 a decade ago, four young men traveled down to London where they detonated homemade bombs hidden in rucksacks on three underground trains and a bus during the morning rush-hour.

Inspired by Al-Qaeda, they killed themselves and 52 other people and wounded around 700 others. Citizens from Poland, Israel, Australia, France, Italy, Afghanistan, Nigeria, New Zealand, and a Vietnamese–American were among the victims.

Cameron and London mayor Boris Johnson stood silently, heads bowed, before laying a wreath at the 7/7 memorial in Hyde Park. They will later join other senior figures, victims’ families, survivors, and members of the emergency services caught up in the bombings for a service of remembrance at St Paul’s Cathedral.

This will include a national minute of silence, which comes just four days after Britain paid a similar tribute to those killed when a gunman opened fire at the Tunisian resort of Sousse.

A further service will be held later at the memorial site for survivors and relatives which Prince William, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, will attend.

Britain is currently on its second highest alert level of “severe”, meaning a militant attack is considered highly likely, mainly due to the danger the authorities say is posed by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters and Britons who have joined them.

Andrew Parker, head of Britain’s domestic spy agency MI5, said only a “tiny fraction of the population” posed a threat.

“But the continuing fact that some people, born in the UK, with all the opportunities and freedoms that modern Britain offers, can nonetheless make those sorts of warped choices presents a serious societal and security challenge,” Parker said in a rare public statement.

The government plans new measures to counter extremism and Mark Rowley, Britain’s most senior counterterrorism police officer, said the country was better prepared than 10 years ago, although the threat itself had morphed.

He said ISIS was creating an “enormous” list of potential targets, focused on propaganda value.

Meanwhile, a senior intelligence source has told Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper that, following the Tunisia attacks, Cameron plans to send British special forces to launch raids inside ISIS-held territory in both Syria and Iraq.

An elite force of up to 100 special forces troops, known as the SAS, has now been given the green light to capture or kill the group’s leaders. They will work alongside British intelligence services as well as US special forces and Navy Seal units during the operations.

“The SAS have been pushing to be more proactive for quite a while . . . The past couple of years they have planned a number of operations in Syria when the chemical weapon threat was high but the missions were vetoed at the highest level because of the risks involved,” the source told the Sunday Times.

However, the source said the recent attack in Tunisia had “led to a rethink and has speeded up the inevitable use of [special forces] against [ISIS].”