Soho Bombing: Thousands of police mount bomb watch

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The Independent Online
POLICE FORCES across Britain will today mount their biggest anti- racist operation, with hundreds of extra officers providing a visible street presence.

They fear that the individual or group responsible for last night's fatal bomb in Soho may strike again.

On the previous two Saturdays, nail bombs have exploded in Brixton and Brick Lane in London, injuring 45 people. In recent weeks, up to 25 members of the Jewish community, as well as blacks and Asians including peers, have received identical stencilled death threats from the so-called White Wolves.

As well as extra patrols involving beat officers, police vehicles and horses, undercover detectives, volunteers and traffic wardens, several areas with large ethnic minority communities, such as Southall in west London, have set up "civil guards". Members of neo-Nazi groups are being monitored.

Talks have taken place all week between the police and ethnic minority communities amid growing concern that the campaign may spread beyond London. Police and the Home Office had urged gay businesses and organisations to be alert for possible bombs, and yesterday's gay Pink Paper carried a warning.

Extra patrols were being set up in cities including Bristol, Liverpool, Bradford, Manchester, Cardiff, Glasgow and Birmingham as well as across London. David Veness, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said that in London alone there would be hundreds of extra officers on duty.

"Our intention will be to deploy significant, highly visible resources to detect and deter these crimes." Forces have stressed the importance of ensuring that closed-circuit television cameras are working.

In Southall, dozens of volunteers will patrol the streets and markets in an attempt to prevent the nail bombers striking their community. The area is home to Britain's biggest Asian population and it was named as a target in a letter from Combat 18, one of the neo-Fascist groups that have claimed responsibility for the bombs. Southall's fears have been increased as all three bombs in the new campaign exploded in crowded places.

Volunteers wearing armbands visited shops in Southall yesterday, handing out leaflets and advice. "Check the alleyways at the back, check your rubbish bags and make sure your customers don't leave anything behind," they told two nervous-looking women behind the counter of a sari shop.

In Manchester, still recovering from the IRA bombing of the city centre three years ago, fears are also running high. Greater Manchester Police said it would deploy extra traffic patrols and police horse units.

In the West Midlands, 4,000 posters in nine languages were put up yesterday, calling for extra vigilance. There will be a more visible police presence outside Sikh Gudwaras, Hindu temples and mosques.

In Bradford, Istiaq Ahmed, director of the city's Race Equality Council, said: "There is a great deal of concern in the community after the racial attacks in London. We feel Bradford could be the next target."

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