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British Police Probe Al Qaeda Link in Bombings


This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

British police say the bombings in London yesterday were carried out by more than one person. Authorities confirmed today that four bombs exploded, three on underground trains and one on a double-decker bus. More than 50 people were killed in the attacks and 700 wounded.

Joining me now to talk about the investigation is Nick Fielding. He is a senior correspondent for London Sunday Times newspaper.

Good morning...

Mr. NICK FIELDING (Senior Correspondent, London Sunday Times): Good morning to you.

MONTAGNE: ...or good afternoon. Good afternoon to you, I guess, here.

Mr. FIELDING: Thank you. It is.

MONTAGNE: Police have just given a briefing. What more--what do we know at this moment about the attacks?

Mr. FIELDING: Well, the thing--a number of things which are quite significant. They're saying, first of all, that it's fairly likely and, in fact, it's almost definite now that they can be sure that the attacks were carried out by more than one person. Because of the timings, they've been able to work out that nobody could possibly have done all four incidents. And therefore, they know it's not a loner that they're looking for, but that it's clearly a team. I mean, that was always the suspicion, but having done their initial analysis, they're able to say that.

They've also established that the bombs were high explosives and weighed less than 10 pounds. They haven't said how much less than 10 pounds, but again, that may be indicative because that possibly points toward commercial or even more likely possibly military explosives, and these are extremely difficult to obtain in the UK, and that may indicate that there is some kind of external connection. So that, again, is just a hint of something. We don't know the full details yet.

The other thing that they've talked a little bit about, they have been talking about the difficulties of examining the forensic--forensically examining the scenes of the crimes, the actual bomb sites themselves, and one of them in particular in an extremely deep tunnel in central London is--from the descriptions that I've seen, it must be extremely difficult to do their job down there. They've not yet been able to recover bodies from that site, and it's a very, very hard job that they're involved in at the moment.

MONTAGNE: Do the details that the police have discovered so far about the bombs add up to who might have carried out these attacks?

Mr. FIELDING: No. I think there's still quite a lot of speculation about that. I mean, I think the thing that's preoccupying people here in the UK is whether these are people that have brought up in the UK or whether they're people that have arrived, comparatively recently, for example, specifically to plan this operation, or whether they may be sort of people that have arrived in the last few years. I think all of those different scenarios--we're all desperately trying to work out which one of those fits the bill most closely and...


Mr. FIELDING: ...because it makes...

MONTAGNE: Well, just also the claim of responsibility from a group calling itself the Secret Group of al-Qaeda's Jihad in Europe. Does that still stand as a claim at least?

Mr. FIELDING: It's understand--as a claim. I think it's the kind of--the amount of trust that's being put in that has varied, I think, during the day. I think we're generally thinking that there may be something in it, but there are a number of counterindications, not the least the fact that it was only on that Web site for two hours before it was taken down by the administrators of the site, who themselves would generally take down things that they didn't trust to be accurate.

So that may just be a counterindication against it. I say we're having to sort of juggle a large number of indeterminate facts to try and build a picture here, and it's--outside of the investigation itself, it's extremely difficult, but that's what we're attempting to do.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for talking with us.

Mr. FIELDING: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: Nick Fielding is senior correspondent for London's Sunday Times newspaper. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.