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Saturday, May 8, 1999 Published at 18:16 GMT 19:16 UK


Hundreds gather for Soho vigil

Overcome by grief among the crowd remembering the bomb victims

Hundreds of people have attended a vigil for the victims of the Soho bombing exactly a week after the blast.

The nail bomb terror
The gay rights group OutRage! invited people to gather outside the scene of the attack, the Admiral Duncan pub in Old Compton Street, in central London.

The vigil to remember the victims of the blast, as well as those who were hurt in the Brixton and Brick Lane nail bombings, began at 1830 BST on Friday in conjunction with a memorial service.

At 1840 BST last Friday, the nail bomb exploded in the gay bar, causing carnage in the central London street.

Three people were killed and 65 injured in the attack. Five victims were still in a critical condition on Thursday, including one man who had to have both legs amputated, and another who had one leg amputated.

Amanda Harper reports on a memorial service and vigil held for victims of the bombing
Outside the pub, a few bouquets leant up against the boards, which were themselves plastered with notices of defiance from the gay community - side by side with messages from the police appealing to people to be vigilant, but not to panic.

A service of remembrance for the victims of the Soho bombing was also held on Friday in the gardens of St Anne's Church in Soho.

The church rang its bell three times in memory of the three people who died in the blast: Andrea Dykes, 27, who was four months pregnant, the best man at her wedding, John Light, 32, and another friend, Nick Moore, 31.

[ image: Tributes left outside the Admiral Duncan pub]
Tributes left outside the Admiral Duncan pub
As the bells stopped ringing, a minute's silence was observed at exactly the time that the bomb exploded a week earlier.

Politicians, including Labour MP Ken Livingstone, and pop star Tom Robinson attended the vigil, along with representatives from the gay, black and Asian communities.

Mr Livingstone made a speech in which he stressed the importance of unity in the face of prejudice as well as the necessity to educate young people against homophobia.

'Remembrance, solidarity and defiance'

"I am shocked by the fact that I meet young people with such opinions. It is almost as if homophobia is a legitimate form of bigotry," he said.

His speech was greeted with cheers and loud applause by the hundreds that had gathered to listen.

Earlier, OutRage! spokesman Peter Tatchell said: "The themes of our vigil are remembrance, solidarity and defiance.

[ image: Three bomb attacks terrorised London communities]
Three bomb attacks terrorised London communities
"As well as commemorating the bomb victims, we want to show our defiance of racism, homophobia and neo-Nazism.

"This vigil is a signal to all hate-mongers that our communities will not be divided or driven underground."

Many of the flowers and tributes left in memory of those killed in the blast are still on display in Soho Square, and people can sign a book of condolence.

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