Frenzied speculation over London "suicide" bus bomber
AFP | July 8, 2005
A day after the worst ever terror attack on London speculation was rife over the possible involvement of a suicide bus bomber behind one of four attacks on the British capital's transport network which killed at least 37 people and injured hundreds more.
Several passengers on a number 30 bus, which had its roof torn off by a blast, reported seeing a dark-skinned man in his mid-20s rummaging in a bag seconds before the blast tore through the bus at Tavistock Square.
"I was standing next to a young gentleman who kept diving into a bag," 61-year-old project manager Richard Jones told reporters.
"He looked foreign. I noticed him as he looked nervous.
"He kept bending over into this bag," said the Scot, who got off the bus just seconds before the explosion caused mayhem, peeling off the vehicle's roof.
Television images showed blood spattered over the walls of nearby buildings moments after the blast, which occurred 56 minutes after the first of three attacks on underground stations.
As many as 20 people were feared to have died on the bus.
Were the suicide bomber hypothesis to be confirmed it would be the first time such an attack had been perpetrated anywhere in Europe.
Terence Mutasa, a nurse at University College Hospital, said two young women he treated said they were convinced there had been a bomber on board and that he had blown himself to smithereens.
"They said the guy just sat down and the explosion happened. They thought it was a suicide bomber."
Several British newspapers were adamant suicide bombers had been involved, the Daily Mirror tabloid referring to "suicide terror" on its front page Friday and the Daily Express referring to "75 killed and 743 injured by suicide bombers."
Several papers speculated that the alleged bomber might have been on his way to attack a fourth underground station after earlier blasts at Aldgate, Kings Cross and Edgware Road.
Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch said it was not discounting any theories as it sought leads on who carried out the carnage.
"It is too early to speculate who may be responsible," a spokesman said.
In last year's train blasts in Madrid, blamed on Islamic extremists, there was similar speculation that those bombings, which left 191 dead, were also the work of suicide bombers but no evidence subsequently emerged to that effect, the perpetrators planting bomb-packed bags on four subway trains before getting off.