A man fatally shot by police at a London subway station on Friday was “unconnected” to Thursday’s attempted bombings of the city’s transit system, a spokesman for Scotland Yard said today. Jean Charles de Menezes, described by officers as a 27-year-old Brazilian electrician on his way to work, “was not connected to incidents in central London on 21st July, 2005, in which four explosive devices were partly detonated,” according to a police statement.
Authorities had previously said the shooting was “directly linked” to the investigations of the bomb attacks. De Menezes, who was slain by officers at the Stockwell subway station around 10 a.m. yesterday, “was challenged and refused to obey police instructions,” Police Commissioner Ian Blair said yesterday.
Also in Stockwell, two men were arrested yesterday in connection with Thursday’s bomb attacks, CNN reports. According to police, the two detained men were to be questioned today.
Of Friday’s shooting, passengers said they saw police pursuing a man who appeared to be of Pakistani or Indian descent. Early reports described the man as a suspected suicide bomber, but witnesses said he didn’t appear to be carrying anything.
Some said police shot him when he tripped, though one witness told the British Broadcasting Corp. that police “pushed him onto the floor and unloaded five shots into him.”
On Friday, police also released photos of four men suspected of launching Thursday’s attacks. The images, taken from closed-circuit TV cameras, showed one man wearing a shirt with “New York” across the front running through a subway station, the Associated Press reports. Another was on a double-decker bus, while the other two men were at separate Underground stations.
In other developments on Friday, witnesses reported that police cordoned off a mosque in east London after a bomb threat.
“Someone phoned our director and said there was a bomb inside,” Mohammed Abdul Bari, chairman of the East London Mosque, told the Associated Press.
The police lifted the cordon about an hour later. The incident appeared to be unrelated to Thursday’s minor blasts targeting London’s transport system, which reportedly injured one person.
Meanwhile, a statement posted Friday on an Islamic Web site in the name of an al Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility for the Thursday blasts. The group, Abu Hafs Al-Masri Brigade, also claimed responsibility for the 7 July bombings. The claim’s authenticity could not be verified, say reports.
The most recent attacks left passengers on three subway lines and on a bus frightened but uninjured.
As a U.S. reaction to recent events in London, officials in New York decided to implement random searches of passengers’ backpacks and briefcases in the subway system and before riders board buses.
Said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg of the random checks: “Are they intrusive? Yes, a little bit. But we are trying to find the right balance in making sure terrorists are caught off-guard.”
However, amid fears of racial profiling, the New York Civil Liberties Union said in an open letter that “the plan is not workable.”