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Britain remembers attack with tribute

Taxis and buses were urged to pull off the road, commuters to pause in reflection and workers to put down their tools across Britain on Thursday in silent memorial to lives lost in terrorist bombings that killed 52 and injured 700.
Britain's Prime minister Tony Blair (C)
Britain's Prime minister Tony Blair, front, and police officers observe two minutes of silence for the London terror attacks victims on Thursday.Odd Andersen / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

Office workers wordlessly filled the streets, construction workers removed their hard hats and London’s famous black cabs pulled to the side of the road as Britain silently paid tribute to the victims of four terrorist bombs that struck a week ago Thursday.

Queen Elizabeth II stood motionless outside Buckingham Palace, and a crowd filled Trafalgar Square, where many could be seen wiping away tears and hanging their heads in prayer during the two-minute tribute that began at noon.

The silence was broken only by the tolling of Big Ben.

Remembrances also took place around the world — from terrorism-scarred sites in Madrid and the Indonesian resort island of Bali, to a British base in Afghanistan.

Authorities announced that the death toll from the July 7 subway and bus attacks had risen to 53, including the four suicide bombers.

In the northern city of Leeds, the home of at least two of the bombers, young Muslims paused in silence before speeches by local imam, a minister and community leaders.

Earlier, police searched yet another Leeds address in their hunt for anyone who aided the bombers. Authorities suspect the four didn’t work alone and that their collaborators or leader are likely still at large.

Prime Minister Tony Blair marked the silence in the garden of his official resident at 10 Downing St., where he hosted a reception for police officers receiving bravery awards not related to the bombings. In the House of Commons and the House of Lords, lawmakers broke off debates to join in the silence.

During the tribute, the usually thronging hordes of tourists outside Westminster Abbey also fell silent. Vehicles halted in the usually busy Parliament Square, as taxi drivers and other motorists ignored the green signals on traffic lights.

“As we stand together in silence, let us send a message to the terrorists — you will not defeat us and you will not break us,” said George Psaradakis, who was driving the double-decker bus that was bombed, killing 13 passengers.

Traffic pauses
Trucks, cars and mounted police all paused along the busy Euston Road outside King’s Cross station, where a memorial garden has been a focus of the city’s grief. Mayor Ken Livingstone laid a wreath there, and hundreds stood silently at the station near the worst of the attacks — a subway train bombing that killed at least 21 people.

At the British Open in St. Andrews, Scotland, an airhorn signaled suspension of play and Tiger Woods took off his hat, closed his eyes and bowed his head at the 14th hole.

British TV interrupted normal broadcasting to show photos of the aftermath of the bombings: soot-faced commuters fleeing in fear and paramedics tending to the injured.

People across Europe also paused. In Madrid, Spain, which was hit by al-Qaida-linked train bombings that killed 191 people last year, Mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardon and other officials observed the silence in a plaza outside town hall.

Sirens wailed across Paris, with French President Jacques Chirac and visiting Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula de Silva standing at attention outside the Elysee Palace.

First lady Laura Bush, touring Rwanda, paused with her daughter, Jenna, and Blair’s wife, Cherie, at a cemetery in Kigali to remember the London victims, as well as the nearly 500,000 Rwandans killed in a government-orchestrated massacre in 1994.

Hundreds gathered on Bali, where a 2002 terror attack claimed 202 lives. Residents and tourists held candles and bowed their heads at a vacant lot that once housed the two bombed nightclubs, said Bagiana Karang, a village chief in Kuta.

British, Afghan and American flags flew at half-staff at the main U.S. base in Kabul as about 200 U.S. and other troops stood silently for two minutes.

“When I got the awful news of the tragedy in London, I felt my own capital in Washington had been under attack,” said the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry.

About 100 British soldiers also stood in silence at nearby Camp Souter.

Pope Benedict XVI prayed for the victims at his vacation retreat in the Italian Alps, the Vatican said.

In Leeds, hundreds gathered in silence outside the Hamara Living Center, where one suspect counseled disabled youths.

“We condemn these terrorists and what they have done,” said Munir Shah, imam of the Stratford Street mosque near the Leeds neighborhood police were searching. “Islam does not agree or teach about the killing of innocent people.”