LONDON — Police and the government said yesterday they will not back away from a tough new “shoot-to-kill” policy when pursuing suspected terrorists or suicide bombers, despite the death on Friday of an innocent Brazilian who was shot after fleeing police.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair said more shootings could be expected.
“This is a terrifying set of circumstances for anyone to take such a decision,” Commissioner Blair said. He urged understanding of the threats Londoners face “on the streets and below the streets” — a reference to eight bombs in the transit system in the previous 17 days.
Authorities also announced that police had arrested a man Saturday night “on suspicion of the commission, investigation or preparation of acts of terrorism.” Details of his connection to the bombings were not released.
However, the arrest was made in a neighborhood in south London where two other men were arrested earlier. Those two still were being interrogated.
Leading Cabinet minister Peter Hain said earlier that police have the government’s “full support” and that police officers would keep the authority to use lethal force “when there is danger to their own lives or to lives of the public.”
“We are standing absolutely steely firm,” he said. “I think the terrorists understand very clearly that we have a government that will not flinch and will hunt them down and root them out.”
He also said that powers to be given to the security services before the end of the year will make it a crime to get training in terrorist activities abroad, even if it cannot be proved that the trainee was planning terrorist acts in Britain.
Fifty-two persons died along with four suicide bombers in a first set of bombing attacks on July 7. Four more men were on the run after trying to detonate bombs on three trains and a bus Thursday.
Further details emerged yesterday about evidence linking the two sets of bombers, connecting members of both groups to a white-water rafting expedition in Wales a week before the first attacks.
Two of the four members of the first group, who have been named, were identifiable in souvenir photographs from the rafting trip, which appeared in British newspapers Thursday.
Police sources said evidence obtained from backpacks left in trains and a bus by the second set of bombers had provided a link to the same outfitting company in northern Wales.
One source said brochures from the company had been found in a backpack. A conflicting account said materials in the packs led to addresses in London whose residents, as identified by tax rolls, had used the rafting company.
Police sources yesterday said Jean Charles de Menezes, the 27-year-old Brazilian electrician who was killed Friday, had been wearing a large padded jacket on a warm day and, when challenged, jumped a barrier and raced onto a subway train.
After he stumbled and fell, a police officer shot him at least four times in the head acting on rules formulated after September 11, 2001. The rule is based on the fear that even a wounded suicide bomber could detonate his charge and cause massive casualties.
Commissioner Blair also noted that the man had been observed leaving an address that was under surveillance in connection with the bomb attacks.
“The not-very-large block of apartments from which he came out was subsequently raided by armed officers,” he said. “It’s important to stress that it was not just a random event, and officers are still having to make these calls as we speak.”
The killing has aroused fierce passions among the country’s 1.7-million-strong Muslim community, threatening to complicate authorities’ efforts to gain information about extremists within that community.
Muslim leaders in Britain have condemned the bombings and pledged to cooperate with police investigations. But they say they will protest any perceived targeting of the Muslim community.
The Brazilian foreign minister was in London over the weekend. He said his country was “shocked and perplexed” by the shooting, but remained in solidarity with Britain in the “fight against terror.”
Distributed by World News & Features