BoE and ECB: No Change

It may seem relatively trivial to be reporting on this after what has happened today in London, but, as they say, life goes on.

First the Bank of England.

The Bank of England left its benchmark interest rate unchanged after a series of explosions hit London buses and underground stations. The central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee kept the repurchase rate at 4.75 percent.

And now the ECB:

The European Central Bank kept its key interest rate unchanged at 2 percent Thursday despite worries about growth and the unsettling news of apparent terrorist attacks in London.

Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said he did not believe the attacks “will have any serious impact” on markets. London’s benchmark stock market index was down 2.3 percent by early afternoon after sinking as much as 4 percent earlier in the day.

Update IV

Update (16:35 CET):

London’s mobile phone network is overloaded and spotty. The police is asking people not to call unless it’s important.

AP:

Two U.S. law enforcement officials said at least 40 people were killed and London hospitals reported more than 350 wounded. A senior police official confirmed at least 33 deaths killed in the subway blasts.
[…]
“This is clearly an al-Qaida style attack. It was well-coordinated, it was timed for a political event and it was a multiple attack on a transportation system at rush hour,” said Lawrence Freedman, professor of war studies at King’s College in London.

Update: The most current death toll number appears to be 45 (Guardian.) I predict it will steadily rise for some days, and then steadily fall for some weeks. The final number is unknowable, but that very, very many are injured appears fairly certain.

Update: From Wikipedia:

HOTLINE NUMBERS:

* Metropolitan Police: 020 7766 6020 (UK) +44 20 7766 6020 (INT’L)
* British Transport Police: 020 8358 0101 (UK) +44 (0) 20 8358 0101 (INT’L)

Don’t call the emergency services unless in “Life threatening” circumstances.

The Metropolitan Police advises against all unnecessary travel within the Capitol.

Original entry:
Guardian Newsblog:

Suddenly, the terrible scale of today’s attack becomes clear. Ambulance sources, reported on Sky, suggest 23 people have been killed at King’s Cross, nine at Edgware road, seven at Aldgate, two at Russell Square. There are hundreds – possibly more than a thousand – injured. We’re trying to verify the numbers.

The numbers 45 (Guardian) and 44 (Sky) have also been bandied about. No numbers are solid at all.
Daniel Johnson in email to Europhobia ( a while ago):

However there does seem to be a bit of a paradoxical thing happening. The broadcasters are holding back – reluctant to report news and instead focusing on reporting on the good work of the emergency services (from eye witness accounts and personally talking to people on the phone, the services are doing a great job and we should be incredibly proud). So they’re very calm- but the public is spinning the rumour mill.. before long I’m sure we’ll get IRA rumours, G8 rebels, etc- we should take comfort in the fact that the leaders of the free world are all together in a room, our emergency services are doing an amazing job – and the majority of scare-mongering rumours appear to be just that.

Its good to be sceptical of rumors, and not spread hysteria.

Nosemonkey said at 13:01 “God, us Brits are great. Hardly any panic – more just getting pissed off that it’s going to be a bugger getting home. I love this country sometimes.”

London Update

Just following on from David, there is in fact a lot of blog activity. Tim Worstall is live blogging. John – shot from both sides – had to walk to work, Alex, the Yorskshire ranter can see things from his office window, Perfect.co.uk is also following things closely etc, etc.

As I said in comments, there seem to have been six bombs, five in tube stations and one on a bus. The Police are saying that incidents were reported at the Aldgate station near the Liverpool Street railway terminal, Edgware Road and King’s Cross in north London, Old Street in the financial district, Tavistock Square, and the bus in Russell Square in central London, near the British Museum.

Blair has said he is going down to London in the afternoon, but that the Gleneagles meeting will continue. The atmosphere will obviously be one of solidarity. This is aimed at the UK, but it is also a symbolic message to the entire G8.

There is no serious speculation yet about who this might be. This piece by Reuter’s security correspondant Mark Trevelyan is a reasonable rundown on the things which immediately appear to stand out.

Financial markets have, understandably, taken it badly, although I don’t imagine this will prove to be long lasting.

The UK authorities are understandably being very careful about handling information about casualties. They don’t want panic, and they don’t want useless speculation.

They also want to be able to inform as many next of kin as possible before releasing data, which I think is admirable.

The total number of dead, mercifully, may not be very large. There are though a considerable number of very seriously wounded.

Updated 13:00 UK time

Neil Mackintosh at the Guardian Blog reports that:

“A packed House of Commons is hearing a statement from Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary. He expresses sympathy to friends and family of those who had died, and says four explosions are confirmed. One on a tube train between Aldgate and Liverpool Street, one on a bus, one in the tube at King?s Cross. Tube.

The underground will remain closed for today at least. There are no buses operating in central London, with decision to reopen to be made later today. People are strongly advised not to travel into central London, with many mainline train companies cancelling services or terminating before the capital.”

Updated 13:30 UK Time
The number of actual explosions seems to have been confirmed at 4. This does not mean there were no more devices which did not go off.

Britain’s Home Secretary Charles Clarke said there were three explosions in the subway and one on a bus. “We do not know who or what organizations are responsible for these terrible criminal acts,” Clarke said.

A summary of the impact of the explosions can be found here.

Explosions in London, suspected terror attacks

Many people were hurt today in a “major incident” on London transport as suspected terrorist attacks caused multiple explosions on tube trains and buses and plunged London’s transport network into chaos.

There’s still a lot of confusion, and little information.
The Guardian Newsblog and Europhobia are liveblogging.

British Transport police initially said power surges had caused explosions, but now people say it’s likely terrorism.

Officials shut down the whole of the London Underground system and cancelled all central London bus services as they tried to comprehend the scale of the disaster. All London hospitals are on major incident alert.

An explosion ripped apart a double-decker bus near Russell Square. Union officials said they had received reports of two more bus explosions, but details were not immediately available.

Laura Matthews, a press officer at Universities UK, which has offices in Tavistock Square, said there were bodies lying around the bus explosion, some of them without arms or legs. “Get people down here quickly,” she sobbed. She thought a bomb had gone off and was trying to evacuate her office.

There were unconfirmed reports that a number of people on the bus had died

London explosions ‘mirror Madrid bombings’ says terror experts, but at this early stage, I’m sceptical anyone really knows what they’re talking about.

Madrid Bombing: Update But Not Yet A Retraction

Update: Friday morning 8:30 CET. The uncertainty about the authors of this crime continues. I think having been fairly forthright at the start, prudence on my part is now what is called for while the investigation continues. Meanwhile I think it is important we don’t lose sight of the magnitude of what has happened: 198 dead, and 1,430 injured according to the latest government figures. It is with the victims and their families that our first thoughts should go. I will post again if and when there is meaningful news, and in any event around 19.00 CET when the demonstrations will be assembling.

Now: Just to follow up on my Madrid bombing post. I have to recognise that the evidence is now more contradictory than it was this morning when I first posted. First we have the case of the van with the tape: the van in fact contained seven detonators and a tape in Arabic. The Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes said the tape had recordings of verses from the Koran.

And then there is the letter to the London based al-Quds newspaper.

A letter purporting to come from Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network has claimed responsibility for the train bombings in Spain, calling them strikes against “crusaders”, according to a London-based Arabic newspaper.

“We have succeeded in infiltrating the heart of crusader Europe and struck one of the bases of the crusader alliance,” said the letter which called the attacks “Operation Death Trains”. There was no way of authenticating the letter, a copy of which was faxed to Reuters’ office in Dubai by the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper.

So I have to recognise that I may have got it wrong. The emphasis here is on may. If I do have it wrong I seem to be in good company, the UN itself just reached the same conclusion and the first version edition of the Spanish left-of-centre newspaper El Pais has run with a headline similar to that of my original post . One additional question which concerns me is how it was that Batasuna were themselves so rapidly on the Islamic trail. I mean if this isn’t Eta, there has been a terrible failing in international security. The CIA has no information, but Batasuna apparently sees ‘indications’: I don’t quite know what to make of that. Since I’ve presented my own views sufficiently before, and since I may have misjudged things, I present below some alternative hypotheses.
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