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Police apologise, but say will shoot suspects on head

By H S Rao in London
July 24, 2005 19:09 IST
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The British police on Sunday accepted 'full responsibility' for shooting a Brazilian who turned out to be totally unconnected to the July 21 London blasts, but said they will have to shoot suicide bombing suspects in the head to prevent them from detonating explosives.

"There is no point in shooting somebody's chest because that's where the bomb is likely to be. There is no point in shooting anywhere else because if they fall down they detonate it. This is drawn on the experience from other countries including Sri Lanka," London's Police Chief Ian Blair said about the way Jean Charles de Menezes was killed on Friday in South London's Stockwell underground station.

"The only way to deal with this is to shoot to the head," he told a local TV channel.

The Metropolitcan police accepted 'full responsibility for the fatal shooting of Menezes', he said, adding, "This is a tragedy. To the family I can only express my deep regrets."

The police apology came as family members and Brazil's government condemned the killing of the 27-year old electrician.

Zilda Ambrosia de Figueiredo, Menezes' grandmother said there 'was no reason to think he was a terrorist. He was very easy going and very communicative with everyone'.

His cousin Alex Alves Pereira from London said: "Apologies are not enough. I believe my cousin's death was a result of police incompetence."

Describing his cousin as a "person full of life" he told the BBC that Menezes was 'a victim of the government's mistakes' adding 'who does not have a past that would make him run from the police'? 

Scotland Yard had earlier confirmed that the victim was completely unconnected to Thursday's bomb attacks, which came two weeks after the deadly blasts in the city's transport system which killed 56.

Brazil's foreign minister is seeking an explanation from Jack Straw about the death of Menezes, who lived in Brixton, south London.

Brazil's government said it 'looks forward to receiving the necessary explanation from the British authorities on the circumstances which led to this tragedy'.

Meanwhile, police said it was certain that the 7/7 blasts and Thursday's attacks were related. Two men have so far been arrested after bombers targeted three tube trains and a bus in the failed attacks.

Police also said a suspect package found in north-west London on Saturday may be linked to those attacks.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "An initial examination suggests that the object may be linked to devices found at four locations in London on July 21," and would be subject to 'detailed forensic analysis'.

Police have also raided a house in Streatham Hill, south London, in connection with the failed attacks.

Meanwhile Dr Azam Tamimi, from the Muslim Association of Britain, told BBC the police should review their procedures.

"It is human lives that are being targeted whether by terrorists or whether, in this case, unfortunately by people who are supposed to be chasing or catching the terrorists."

But London Mayor Ken Livingstone said the police acted to do what they believed necessary to protect the lives of the


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H S Rao in London
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