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Multiple Blasts Create Mayhem In London

Workers in London's financial district receive directions from police after their buildings were evacuated 7 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair says it is “reasonably clear” today’s blasts in London are terrorist attacks.

"It's reasonably clear that there have been a series of terrorist attacks in London," Blair said. "There are obviously casualties. Both people that have died and people seriously injured, and our thoughts and prayers of course are with the victims and their families."

Blair was speaking in Gleneagles, Scotland, where he is hosting a summit of the Group of Eight (G-8) leading industrialized countries. He said the attacks would not disrupt the summit proceedings.

The reported two deaths come as central London was rocked by at least six explosions targeting its transportation system. The explosions occurred on the underground metro system and on double-decker buses. In the wake of the blasts, the entire underground metro system has been closed.

London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair said details of the attack remain confused.

"We think there are about six [explosions] so far, but it is still a very confusing scene, and the important point is that we will gradually, but as quickly as we possibly can, assume complete order over the process, Ian Blair said.

British Home Secretary Charles Clarke, speaking after a cabinet meeting earlier today, said there had been "terrible injuries" from the multiple explosions but police and health services are in the control of the situation.

"Health services are in support to deal with the terrible injuries that there have been and I want to express sympathy on behalf of the whole government to the families and the friends of those who have been injured," Clarke said.

One unidentified male witnesses to an explosion on a metro train described the scene this way.

"We left the [King's Cross] platform, started going underground, approximately [100 meters]," he said. "There was an explosion, a flash of light, everything went dark, the train ground to a halt. There was emergency lighting that came on, people started screaming, and then there appeared to be smoke or soot, it was everywhere and it was all over our clothes and our hands and we just had no idea what was going on."

The same witness says the passengers were struck by fear and panic.

"People started screaming," he said. "People felt very uncomfortable. Everyone just spent time with each other, trying to calm everyone down, and that seemed to go fairly well in our carriage, but in other carriages, you could hear people just feeling very uncomfortable and some people grabbed the hammers and started smashing glass, trying to open the door."

The London blasts suggest some parallels with the terrorist attacks on Madrid’s transportation system on 11 March 2004. As with the Madrid attacks, which occurred three days before a general election, the London blasts appeared timed to coincide with a major political event.

Today’s blasts in London take place as the G-8 leaders are meeting on the first full day of their summit to discuss global warming and debt relief for poor countries.

The summit, which requires its own massive security operation, has drawn heavily on police and counterterrorism resources across Britain.