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Saturday, April 24, 1999 Published at 22:03 GMT 23:03 UK


Blair leads bomb condemnation

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has led the condemnation after a bomb rocked the centre of London's Bangladeshi community - a week after a similar device blew up in Brixton.

Tony Blair: "These things are outrageous and we will not tolerate them and we will make every effort to find out those responsible and bring them to justice."

UK Home Secretary Jack Straw: "I am appalled by this second evil act of malicious violence. The sick perpetrators of this crime are obviously aiming to injure completely innocent people at random. Our first thoughts are for those that have been injured and who were in the vicinity."

Bethnall Green and Bow MP Oona King: "It is obviously part of the backlash against the Lawrence inquiry. I think people failed to realise it in the black community but people are living every day in fear of racist violence."

Ali, a local shopkeeper: "We knew it was going to be here. We have been saying that all week, but we never knew it was going to be that quick."

Tower Hamlets councillor Raja Miah: "When I got there it looked like a scene from a war zone. I saw a car ablaze with pieces of shrapnel and debris all over the place. I saw several people with blood from glass injuries on their face."

Tower Hamlets Council leader Julia Mainwaring: "People are frightened - families were out doing their Saturday shopping and now the community feels intimidated. They want reassurance and want to feel that this type of thing couldn't happen.

"There are two issues here. One is the fear in the Bangladeshi community this evening - it will leave a scar on the local community. The other is the regeneration of the area and what effect this will have on the local business community and its knock-on effect."

Community worker Abdul Asad: "Brick Lane is a very multi-ethnic area. The people around there are very law abiding. They will be very scared, frightened and nervous."

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Alan Fry, head of the anti-terrorist branch: "This is another vicious atrocity with terrorist impact."

Lee Jasper, secretary of the National Black Alliance: "The moment the Brixton bombing took place we said that the only conceivable motive was racism. The Brick Lane bomb now makes this irrefutable. Whether the bombs were planted by Combat 18, another racist group or by an individual, there is no question who are the targets - London's black communities."

Claude Moraes of the Commission for Racial Equality: "I think that there will be a call for the police to step up their efforts to catch the perpetrators. The effect of this will be shock in the community and the terror that has been caused is unacceptable."

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