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Unease lingers in London

A year after the dastardly attacks on July 7, 2005, life in the capital has returned to normal -- almost.

india Updated: Jul 07, 2006 13:19 IST

Britain marks the first anniversary of the London terror attacks Friday with two minutes of silence, a candle-lighting service and flowers at the subway stations and public square where 52 commuters were killed in Western Europe's first suicide bombings.

Relatives of those who died planned to attend an evening ceremony in Regent's Park, where the names of the dead were to be read aloud.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone plans to place flowers outside King's Cross station -- where the four attackers are believed to have separated before detonating their bombs -- at 8:50 am (0750 GMT), the moment three of the explosions went off on July 7, 2005.

Another flower ceremony is planned at 9:47 a.m. (0847 GMT) in Tavistock Square, where a No 30 bus was torn apart.

Britons got an unnerving reminder of their vulnerability on Thursday when Al-Jazeera television broadcast a video in which one of the bombers promised more terror.

"What you have witnessed now is only the beginning of a series of attacks that will continue and increase in strength," said Shehzad Tanweer, 22, whose backpack bomb killed six people and himself aboard a Circle Line subway in east London.

A year after the attacks, life in the capital has returned to normal -- almost.

London's sweaty subway cars are as jam-packed as ever and the red double-decker buses still roll through the capital crowded with commuters and photo-snapping tourists.

But the fear isn't gone, only covered over by a veneer of calm, an uneasy sense of normality that could be shattered by another attack.

Memories of the ordinary Thursday morning commute that turned horrific are never far from the surface. And the attacks, which killed 52 commuters plus the four bombers, have changed Britain in ways large and small.

News that the young attackers were all born or raised in Britain stunned many and strained ties between the country's large Muslim community and the wider population.

Many British Muslims feel they're targets for suspicion; rights activists fear new anti-terror powers threaten civil liberties; and two mistaken shootings by officers have undermined public trust in the police.

Within days of the bombings, detectives identified those they believed responsible _ four young men dead in the wreckage with their victims.

Three were of Pakistani descent and lived in and around the northern English city of Leeds. The fourth was a Jamaican immigrant who settled northwest of London.

But a year later, police don't know to what extent others may have aided them and the search for a wider network appears stalled. No co-conspirators have been arrested.

Tanweer's video arrived at an Al-Jazeera office with clips showing Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida's No 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri.

The terror network has claimed responsibility for the London attacks, but authorities say it's unclear what its role was. A recent government report said investigators had uncovered no links between the attacks and a set of failed bombing attempts two weeks later, for which five men are awaiting trial.

The huge police presence in London that immediately followed the attacks has largely vanished, but security remains tight.

Terror fears have even touched the Wimbledon tennis tournament, where police this week are using mirrors to check cars' undersides for bombs.