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World condemns savage attacks in UK

Friday, July 8th 2005 - 21:00 UTC
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World leaders condemned the deadly attacks on London's transport system yesterday as ??barbaric,'' ??odious'' and ??despicable'' in a globe-spanning pledge of solidarity ? and vowed to cooperate to track down the terrorists.

Flashing back to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and the train bombings in Madrid last year, security was stepped up in at least a dozen capitals, from Moscow to Madrid to Washington and New York over fears that more terror could be in the offing. European nations feeling special vulnerability to terror, from Italy to Spain and France took strong measures to counter an attack.

But New York Gov. George Pataki warned against succumbing to fear ? ??a terrorist's biggest weapon.''

In Pakistan, a key US ally in the war on terrorism, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said it is ??imperative that we stand together... to eliminate this menace.'' Hours after the attacks, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to condemn the carnage and vowed to bring those responsible to justice.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan echoed that sentiment, saying he was devastated by the bombings. ??These vicious acts have cut us all to the core, for they are an attack on humanity itself,'' Annan said in a statement. ??Today, the world stands shoulder to shoulder with the British people.''

In Strasbourg, France, seat of the European Parliament, Parliament President Josep Borrell expressed condolences and pledged solidarity. ??We will never let atrocities or terrorism defeat the values of peace and democracy,'' he said.

In Washington, the US Homeland Security Department asked authorities in major cities for heightened vigilance of transport systems. Bomb-sniffing dogs and armed police patrolled subways and buses. Pataki ordered New York state troopers to ride the city's buses and subway trains.

Spain, also bitterly familiar with terror, put its security forces on maximum alert, posting army and police units to watch over airports, train stations and shopping centres. Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's government offered ??unconditional help to chase the criminals who perpetrated such a repugnant attack.'' The March 11, 2004, train bombings in Madrid killed 191 people.

A similar response came from France, with Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin ordering the alert level raised a notch and promising Britain the ??immediate, full and complete collaboration'' of French intelligence. ??It is a drama for Great Britain. It is a drama for all of Europe,'' Villepin said, recalling the Madrid bombings.

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, often the target of Islamic extremists, expressed support for Britain, and Lebanese President Emile Lahoud said his country ??shares with the Britons their pain.''

Iraq's prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, sent Prime Minister Tony Blair a message they heard about the explosions ??with regret.'' ??It is a shameful terrorist act that doesn't have any relation to religions and human morals,'' his message said. ??While I am expressing my deep sorrow to you and through you to the British people and families of victims, I confirm to you our deep will to rid the evil of terrorism in any country as it appears.''

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit denounced the ??terrorist acts'' and pledged solidarity with Britain.

The Foreign Ministry in Yemen, site of a deadly 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole, condemned ??the terrorist acts that have targeted innocent civilians'' and called for ??joint action to uproot'' terrorists.

British Muslim groups also condemned the blasts. ??These evil deeds make victims of us all,'' the council said in a statement. ??The evil people who planned and carried out these series of explosions in London want to demoralize us as a nation and divide us as a people."

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder stressed the need for fighting terrorism ??with all the means at our disposal.'' Like Blair, Schröder said the terror ??clearly was aimed at the summit'' in Gleneagles, Scotland, and hailed Blair's decision not to cancel the meeting.

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi called for heightened security and a united front against terrorism. ??A band of fanatical criminals has made London and Britain pay a high price for hosting the G-8,'' Berlusconi said in Gleneagles. ??It's necessary to raise the levels of defences,'' he said, adding: ??Terrorism will not prevail if we stand united with determination.''

As in many European countries, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt called an emergency response group meeting to assess security measures in Brussels, which is home to the European Union's executive commission and NATO headquarters.

At Vatican City, Pope Benedict XVI called the attacks ??barbaric acts against humanity,'' and said he was praying for families of the victims.

??This is all wanton violence,'' said Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern after an audience with the pope. ??It is a black mark on society and a devastating blow against people.'' Cyprus strengthened security in main towns and at the airport and around British interests.

In Denmark, former Foreign Minister Mogens Lykketoft said what others were remembering with likely dread: ??This is the continuation of Sept. 11 and the attacks in Madrid... No one can feel safe.''

Candles appeared in front of the British Embassy in Warsaw shortly after news of the attacks flashed around the world. Security was tightened in the Warsaw metro and other transport facilities.

??There are some who want to disrupt a country's success and a country's calm in an unacceptable manner,'' said Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany.

In Turkey, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul urged greater international cooperation against terrorism, saying it is a mistake ??if we make a distinction between ?my terrorist and his terrorist'.'' (Agencies)

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