After bombs went off on three London Underground lines during the rush hour of July 7, 2005, another ripped through a doube-decker bus in Tavistock Square near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, whose message of peace was poignantly recalled a decade later on Tuesday.
Speakers at a high-profile service of commemoration at St Paul’s Cathedral noted the contrast marked by the blast at Tavistock Square, where Gandhi’s statue installed in 1968 has turned the square into a place of peaceful protest for many.
Michael Ellis of the London Fire Brigade said: “A statue of Mahatma Gandhi looks out across Tavistock Square and echoes the campaign for peace and non-violent resistance which characterised Gandhi’s mission in life”.
He added: “Even before this great man’s memorial was erected here, a cherry tree was planted to remember the victims of the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki”.
The sombre event was attended by survivors and relatives of the victims, and many individuals who contributed to relief and rescue efforts. The names of the 52 people killed in the blasts were read out; over 700 were injured. The news media provided blanket coverage of the 10 anniversary.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who laid a wreath at the memorial for the victims at Hyde Park, said July 7, 2005 was “one of those days where everybody remembers exactly where they were when they heard the news…Ten years on from the 7/7 London attacks, the threat continues to be as real as it is deadly - but we will never be cowed by terrorism.”
A minute’s silence was held across Britain at 11.30am, while brief events were held at the tube stations where the three blasts went off. Some Underground trains and buses stopped, and tennis was delayed at Wimbledon to allow the silence to be observed.
At St Paul’s Cathedral, the silence ended with petals being released from the dome, and four candles were lit, one for each of the four blast sites.
The bombings were carried out by Britons, described as ‘home-grown terrorists’: Mohammad Sidique Khan, 30, Shehzad Tanweer, 22, Hasib Hussain, 18, and Germaine Lindsay, 19. They reportedly had links to al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan.