UK honours victims of 7/7, Sousse
London - The United Kingdom observed a minute of silence on July 7th, marking the tenth anniversary of the 7/7 attacks, just days after honouring the 30 British victims of the Sousse attack in Tunisia.
The Islamic State (ISIS) attack June 26th on the Tunisian beach resort had been the largest loss of British life in a terrorist attack since the 7/7 bombings, which resulted in the deaths of 52 London commuters.
“Ten years on from the 7/7 London attacks, the threat from terrorism continues to be as real as it is deadly. The murder of 30 innocent Britons while holidaying in Tunisia is a brutal reminder of that fact. But we will never be cowed by terrorism,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement.
Hashtag #Walktogether trended on July 7th and saw commuters post images of themselves on London’s Underground and buses to honour the victims of the attack and express defiance towards the spectre of terrorism. Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson led a wreath-laying ceremony at the 7 July Memorial in London’s Hyde Park.
The ceremony saw dignitaries bow their heads before the memorial’s 52 steel columns, each representing a victim killed by home-grown al-Qaeda-inspired terrorists a decade ago.
Families of victims and survivors of the attack gathered in Hyde Park to mark the occasion, with the names of the victims read out by attack survivor Tim Coulson. A special service was held at St Paul’s Cathedral, attended by leaders of London’s Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities.
While Cameron and others expressed defiance, some remain haunted by the events of 2005. Emma Craig, who was 14 at the time of the attack, delivered an emotional speech at the Hype Park memorial. “All of us lost our innocence that day… It may not have broken London but it did break some of us,” she said.
Four days earlier, the United Kingdom came to a standstill with a minute of silence to honour the British victims of the Sousse attack, killed by an Islamic State (ISIS) gunman.
On July 7, 2005, four British Muslims — Mohammad Sidique Khan, 30; Shehzad Tanweer, 22; Hasib Hussain, 18; and Germaine Lindsay, 19 — detonated bombs hidden in rucksacks on three Underground trains and one bus, killing 52 and injuring at least 700 others.
The attack on London by home-grown terrorists with links to al- Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan saw the United Kingdom take renewed action to confront terrorism, including the introduction of a stronger anti-terror bill.
ISIS gunman Seifeddine Rezgui’s attack on tourists in Tunisia’s Sousse resort was met with widespread condemnation, with calls for the United Kingdom to do more to counter ISIS at home and abroad. Cameron has pledged a “full spectrum response” to ISIS and UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon called on the government to expand air strikes to include ISIS targets in Syria.
London saw increased security in the run up to the 7/7 anniversary amid fears of copycat attacks. The British capital had a major counterterrorism exercise over 48 hours the week prior to the anniversary. Codenamed Strong Tower, the exercise incorporated thousands of police officers, soldiers, emergency service workers and intelligence officials and represented London’s largest counterterrorist exercise.
As for the state of security on the London Underground during the anniversary, Richard Jones, head of the London Underground’s Command and Control, said: “Developments in technology, including digital CCTV and upgraded radio communications, have improved our ability to identify and respond to threats.
Since 2005 we have increased the number of British Transport Police officers on the Tube by more than 40%, to 700.”