Britain falls into silence

Investigation of terrorist attacks in London continues as the whole country sank into silence to mourn for the victims of the blasts occurred a week ago.

Prime Minister Tony Blair and Britons nationwide prepared to mark the one-week anniversary of the London bombings with two minutes' silence at noon (1100GMT) and a defiant gathering in Trafalgar Square, says the AP.

People across the 25-nation European Union also were being asked to observe the two minutes' silence, EU officials said.

Takeoffs and landings were to be kept to a minimum during the two-minute period at Heathrow and Gatwick airports, and no trains were to leave London's main stations during the remembrance, officials said. Before the memorial, London Mayor Ken Livingstone solemnly placed a wreath at the King's Cross subway station near the scene of the worst of the bombings.

Police officers in the northern city of Leeds continued to examine evidence in an effort to trace the mastermind behind the terror attacks. In London, officers handed out leaflets at bus, railway and Underground stations, seeking to identify anyone who may have seen the bombers.

According to the British press, a fifth member of the terrorist cell behind the London bombings may still be at large. Scotland Yard has yet to definitively identify a fifth man but he could have been the bombmaker or the orchestrator of the attacks, says The Evening Standard.

Security services have also revealed that the bombers, all from West Yorkshire, were likely to have been "footsoldiers" recruited by a senior Al-Qaeda lieutenant who may have fled the country days before the London attacks. The man is understood to be in his 30s, British and of Pakistani origin. Detectives are said to believe he came into the country at a UK port last month.

As The Daily Mail reports, two of the bombers were cautioned by police for minor offences last year and it is also understood that one of the gang was looked at, but not arrested, during a major anti-terrorist operation in 2004.

The Times newspaper, quoting unidentified police sources, said detectives were interested in locating M. Asi el-Mashar, 33, an Egyptian-born academic who recently taught chemistry at Leeds University. The Times said he was thought to have rented one of the homes being searched in Leeds.

Neighbors reported that el-Mashar had recently left Britain, saying he had a visa problem, The Times reported.

The Daily Telegraph said police were trying to identify a man seen standing near the four suspects on the platform at Luton railway station, where they apparently boarded a train for London on the morning of the bombings.

Yesterday the British press reported that London suicide bombers were teenage suicidal terrorists of Pakistani origin.

Photo: AP

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