Britain marks London bombings one year on

LONDON - Britain marked the first anniversary of the London suicide bombings with flowers, candles and a 2-minute silence as the city's police chief said another attack now looked more likely.

A year after four young British Islamists blew themselves up on London's transport system, killing 52 people and wounding 700, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair described the threat faced by Britain as "grim".

"There are, as we speak, people in the United Kingdom planning further atrocities," he told BBC Radio. "Since July, the threat has palpably increased."

Across the country, people fell silent at midday (12.00am NZT) in memory of the dead.

Tennis fans fell silent at the Wimbledon championships and Queen Elizabeth paused for reflection at a church service in the Scottish capital Edinburgh.

"It is a chance for the whole nation to come together to offer comfort and support to those who lost loved ones or were injured on that terrible day," Prime Minister Tony Blair said in a statement.

The prime minister later joined grieving families and people injured in the attacks at an emotional service in Regent's Park.

Saba Mozakka's voice faltered as she read a translation of a Persian poem in tribute to her mother Behnaz, 47, who died in the bombings.

Family members then laid mauve and yellow flowers in a flower-shaped mosaic in memory of the victims.

Earlier, remembrance candles were lit under the vast dome of London's St Paul's Cathedral at 8:50 a.m. and at 9:47 a.m. - the times the bombs went off - and wreaths were laid in Tavistock Square, where the last of the four bombers detonated his explosives on a double-decker bus.

"It's a very sobering moment," Obi Nwosu, an IT manager who was at that ceremony, told Reuters. "It makes you realise your day to day problems are not really that significant."

Fear of second attack

Londoners have been living with the fear of a second attack. The fact no one has been charged in connection with Western Europe's first suicide attacks has added to unease.

Al Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahri said two of the London bombers received training in al Qaeda camps, according to a video posted on the internet on Friday.

The video, suggesting a link between Osama bin Laden's network and the bombers, appeared to be the same one from which Al Jazeera television had aired footage on Thursday.

The video showed one of the London bombers, Shehzad Tanweer, saying attacks would continue until Britain pulled its forces out of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The British government says it knows little about the motivation of the London bombers, their possible training abroad or their alleged links to al Qaeda.

Some survivors want a full public inquiry into events which, like the September 11 attacks in the United States, have become etched into the British psyche as a simple date - 7/7.

Many of Britain's 1.8 million Muslims feel their community has been unfairly targeted by the police since the attacks. Two botched anti-terrorist operations in which police shot two innocent men, killing one of them, have not helped.

Speaking at an Islamic centre in East London, Kumrul Hassan, whose niece Shahara Islam was killed in the bus bombing, said he hoped Britons would "not see such terrible acts committed in our country ever again".

- REUTERS

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