Bombing anniversary ‘a time to unite’

The year anniversary of the London bombings is a change for Britain to “unite across all races, religions and divides”, Tony Blair said today.

He was speaking after the country observed a two-minute silence this lunchtime in remembrance of the 52 people who died in the terror attacks on July 7th.

“Today is a day of remembrance across London and the United Kingdom. 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,” the prime minister said.

“This is a time when our country unites across all races, religions and divides and stands in solidarity with all those who have suffered so much, in sympathy with them and in defence of the values we share.”

Mr Blair also praised the “extraordinary efforts” of the emergency services, transport staff, health workers and members of the public who responded to the three London Underground bombs and the attack on the No 30 bus a year ago today.

A commemoration ceremony is taking place this evening at Regent’s Park, where the names of the victims will be read aloud. The events come after a video was released last night showing one of the suicide bombers promising a “string” of attacks on the UK.

Shehzad Tanweer, whose bomb on a London Underground train at Aldgate station killed seven people, spoke in a broad Yorkshire accent when he gave his message to camera.

“What you have witnessed now is only the beginning of a string of attacks that will continue and become stronger until you pull your forces out of Afghanistan and Iraq and until you stop your financial and military support to America and Israel,” he said.

The Leeds-born 22-year-old was one of four suicide bombers, along with Hasib Hussain, Mohammad Sidique Khan and Germaine Lindsay.

Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Andy Hayman said the timing of the video was intended to “cause maximum hurt and distress to the families and friends of those who died”, but insisted the majority of Britons condemned any justification of the bombs.

Relatives of the victims and survivors have promised not to let the video interfere with today’s commemorations; however the revelation of the links between Tanweer and al-Qaida raises new questions about whether July 7th was a homegrown attack.

It has renewed calls for a public inquiry, something backed by the Conservatives but rejected by the government as an ineffective use of police and security forces’ time.

John Taylor, whose daughter, Carrie, was one of those killed at Aldgate station, described the video of Tanweer as “insidious” but said it showed the government’s explanation of the four bombers as an isolated group was not right.

Carrie’s mother, June, told Newsnight: “We need a full inquiry because it makes the government look like they have got things to hide. It is down to resources but not financial resources because we have already been told that it’s manpower.”

Culture secretary Tessa Jowell announced yesterday that a permanent memorial to the July 7th victims would be included in the main site for the London 2012 Olympics.