The head of London's police expressed deep regret Sunday for the slaying of a Brazilian electrician mistaken by police as a suspect in the recent terror bombings, but defended the policy authorizing deadly force.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair also said there were similarities between the explosives used in Thursday's failed bomb attacks and those detonated in the deadly July 7 bombings. But he said investigators still had no proof the two strikes were linked. "The equipment in the bombs had all the elements that it should have but it didn't work," Blair told Sky News television, referring to the explosives that failed to detonate properly Thursday on three subway cars and a double-decker bus.
"It had some similarities" to the devices used by four suicide bombers who killed themselves and 52 other people in three subway trains and a double-decker bus July 7.
The city remained on edge, and police carried out several controlled explosions to dispose of a suspect package found in northeast London, which they said may have been linked to devices used in the botched July 21 attacks. They refused further details.
Later Sunday, relatives and friends of people killed in those explosions visited the sites of the attacks after a police briefing on the state of the investigation.
When asked if the latest attacks and the July 7 bombings were connected, Blair replied, "We have no proof that they are linked, but clearly there is a pattern here."
Two of the suspected July 7 bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shahzad Tanweer, went whitewater rafting in Wales three days before the attacks, according to the National Whitewater Centre.
Police refused to comment on a report by the BBC on Sunday, attributed to anonymous officials, that said authorities were examining whether those involved in the July 21 attempted bombings were on the same trip. Police have made two arrests after Thursday's failed attacks. Officers have not released the identities of the arrested. Blair said the arrested remained in custody, but added that officers were "still anxious for any sighting of the four individuals" who carried out the Thursday strikes. Closed-circuit TV stills of the suspects were made public last week.
The man shot Friday at the Stockwell subway station was identified as Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, a Brazilian citizen. Witnesses said he was wearing a heavy padded coat when plainclothes police chased him into a subway car, pinned him to the ground and shot him five times in the head and torso in front of horrified passengers.
Police initially said they believed Menezes was linked to the investigation of Thursday's attacks, but later said he had no connection to the bomb attempts.
Blair defended the officers' shooting to kill, saying such action only applied when lives were believed to be at risk.
"I am very aware that minority communities are talking about a shoot-to-kill policy; it's only a shoot to kill in order to protect policy," he said.
"It is drawn from experience from other countries, including Sri Lanka. The only way to deal with this is to shoot to the head," Blair said. "There is no point in shooting at someone's chest because that is where the bomb is likely to be," Blair said.
Police said Menezes attracted police attention because he left a building that was under surveillance after Thursday's attacks. They said he was then followed by surveillance officers to the station, and that his clothing and his behavior at the station added to their suspicions.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, who was visiting London, said his government and people were "shocked" by the killing and demanded a thorough investigation. "We can not recover the life of the Brazilian citizen who died, but it is very important to know all the details," Amorim said after meeting a British official.
The shooting was an indication of the anxiety in the city of about 8 million people. A police watchdog organization, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, said it would investigate the shooting but make sure not to hinder the bombings probe.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights group Liberty, said such an investigation was critical for reassuring the public. "It's incredibly important that society remains united at such a tense time, it's very important that young Asian men don't feel that there is some kind of trigger-happy culture out there," Chakrabarti said.
Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said, "It's absolutely vital that the utmost care is taken to ensure that innocent people are not killed due to overzealousness", - reported AP.
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