LONDON (AP)–Four blasts rocked the London subway and tore open a packed double-decker bus during morning rush hour on Thursday–sending bloodied victims fleeing in the worst attack on London since World War II. Thirty-seven people were killed–British officials said–and 700 wounded in the terror attacks.
A clearly shaken Prime Minister Tony Blair called the coordinated attacks "barbaric" and said they were designed to coincide with the G-8 summit opening in Gleneagles–Scotland. They also came a day after London won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics. A group calling itself "The Secret Organization of al-Qaida in Europe" claimed responsibility.
The four blasts went off within an hour–beginning at 8:51 a.m.–and hit three subway stations and the double-decker bus. Authorities immediately shut down the subway and bus lines that log 8.4 million passenger trips every weekday.
Doctors from the nearby British Medical Association (BMA) rushed into the street to treat the wounded from the bus. "The front of BMA house was completely splattered with blood and not much of the bus was left," said Dr. Laurence Buckman.
As the city’s transportation system ground to a near-halt–buses were used as ambulances and an emergency medical station was set up at a hotel. Rescue workers–police and ordinary citizens streamed into the streets to help.
Blair–flanked by fellow G-8 leaders–including President Bush–read a statement from the leaders. "We shall prevail and they shall not," he said.
"Whatever they do–it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilized nations throughout the world," he said earlier.
In Scotland–Bush warned Americans to be "extra vigilant," and his administration raised the terror alert for mass transit a notch to code orange. Security also was stepped up in the US Capitol and in train and bus stations around the country.
Much of Europe also went on alert. Italy’s airports raised alert levels to a maximum. The Czech Republic–Hungary–Russia–the Netherlands–France and Spain also announced beefed-up security at shopping centers–airports–railways and subways.
A group calling itself "The Secret Organization of al-Qaida in Europe" posted a claim of responsibility–saying the blasts were in retaliation for Britain’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.