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London police release names of 2 suspects, warn of ongoing danger

LONDON—Police, desperate to find four would-be suicide bombers they believe are still at large, released the names of two of the suspects on Monday and pleaded with the public for information that would lead to their arrests.

Warning that the four men are dangerous, police also released new photos of two suspects, including one of a suspect on a subway train just minutes before he would try to destroy it.

"They've already tried once to kill themselves while killing others," said a London police officer who, under British rules, can't be identified by name. "As far as we know, they're still alive and they're still out there. I'd say they're a very serious threat."

Police provided little information about the four and said they weren't sure of their nationalities or backgrounds. On Monday, they raided an apartment in London where one of the men apparently had lived.

Police also said that the four bombs recovered after they failed to explode Thursday and a fifth bomb found in a London park over the weekend were made from the same materials and placed in similar clear plastic, white-capped kitchen containers hidden in similar dark backpacks.

Police have been searching for the four men since shortly after their bombs failed to explode aboard three subway trains and a bus during the lunch hour on Thursday, two weeks to the day when bombings on July 7 killed 52 people and four suicide bombers. Those bombs also exploded aboard three subway trains and a bus.

Since then, police have followed leads in England, Scotland, Wales, Pakistan and Egypt, and they've said their investigation suggests a widespread terrorist network. At least nine people have been connected to Thursday's failed bombings—the four fugitive bombers and five people who police say have been arrested in the case. At least four suicide bombers died in the July 7 bombings, three of whom lived in central England in and around the city of Leeds.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke of London's Anti-Terrorist Branch, identified two of the fugitive bombers as Muktar Said Ibrahim, also known as Muktar Mohammed-Said, and Yasin Hassan Omar.

Said Ibrahim, 27, is thought to have tried to detonate a bomb on a No. 26 bus at about 1 p.m. Thursday near Hackney Road. Police believe he lived in north London; they raided his flat early Monday.

Omar, 24, is thought to have tried to detonate a bomb aboard a subway train between Oxford Circus and Warren Street just after 12:30 p.m.

"He then left the booking hall by vaulting over the ticket barrier and running toward the exit," Clarke said.

Police said they couldn't confirm the names of the other two suspects. But Clarke offered new details about the failed explosions and the suspected bombers' escape afterward.

He said Ibrahim, Omar and a third unidentified bomber had been caught by closed-circuit television cameras entering the Stockwell subway station just before 12:25 p.m.

The unidentified man took a train north and tried to set off a bomb before he got to the next station, Oval. He's been seen in tapes wearing a New York sweatshirt.

"The train stopped at Oval station, and he was then chased from the station by extraordinarily brave members of the public who tried to detain him," Clarke said. "He left the Oval station at about 12:35 p.m. and ran along Brixton Road, towards Brixton."

Brixton in the past has been tied to radical Islamists, including failed shoe bomber Richard Reid.

Clarke said the man ran "into Normandy Road, Cowley Road, Gosling Way, where at the junction with Mostyn Gardens, he threw away his top with the New York logo. ... He was last seen at a quarter to 1 in Tindall Street." Police later explained that the route had been determined through witness accounts and closed-circuit television tapes.

A fourth bomber rode the subway toward Shepherd's Bush around 12:30 p.m. After trying to set off his bomb, he fled, "probably by climbing through a window at the end of the carriage. He then made his way along the track for about two to three hundred yards, before climbing down into back gardens and making good his escape."

He said the man ran past the headquarters of the British Broadcasting Corp. during his escape.

The bombers each had been wearing or holding their bombs at one time, police said. The new photo of the man on the Stockwell-Oval train shows him looking calm as he holds onto the rail of a moving train, wearing his backpack.

The fifth bomb, found Saturday, appeared to have been discarded, not hidden, police said. Police said it most likely had been dropped in the park on Thursday, raising speculation in British newspapers that a fifth bomber is on the loose. But police insisted Monday that they're looking for only four bombers.

Police said the kitchen containers in which the explosives were packed are manufactured in India and sold in about 100 stores in Great Britain. They asked for information from anyone who recalled selling the containers.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Monday that it was the duty of all British people to be aware of the bombers and to alert police if they see them.

"There will be people who know somebody," he said.

Also Monday, British Foreign Minister Jack Straw met with Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim to discuss the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, 27. Menezes was shot Friday by police who feared he might be a suicide bomber. Police said Saturday that Menezes wasn't involved in the attempted bombings.

Menezes, a Brazilian electrician, had been shot eight times, seven in the head, police said Monday. British police are under shoot-to-kill orders when dealing with suspected suicide bombers and have been instructed to shoot suspects in the head.

Police had been watching Menezes' building and followed him to the Stockwell subway station—a trip that included a short ride on a city bus. Police say they approached him as he left the bus and that he ran, jumped a turnstile and ran onto a subway train—where witnesses said he "looked terrified." Police said he was shot because they believed he was about to detonate a bomb.

Amorim said Monday that it was obvious mistakes were made.

"I've been guaranteed there will be a far-reaching, intense investigation," he said. "It's been admitted there was an error. It is important to know the reasons."

He added that while Brazil understands "the pressures under which the British people are living since the attacks," human rights must be respected in the fight against terror.

Straw said British officials would work to speed up the return of Menezes' body and compensation to his family in Brazil.

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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