London attacks are "barbaric acts against humanity", says Pope

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – "Barbaric acts against humanity," Pope Benedict XVI said upon hearing about the terrorist attacks that paralysed central London, injuring hundreds of people and killing dozens more.

As soon as he was told of the news, the Pontiff collected his thoughts to pray in his private chapel.

The Pope sent a telegram to the Archbishop of London, Card Murphy O'Connor. The full text—signed by the Secretary of State, Card Angelo Sodano—was released by Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls. The message reads as follows:

"Deeply saddened by the news of the terrorist attacks in central London the Holy Father offers fervent prayers for the victims and for all those who mourn.

"While he deplores these barbaric acts against humanity he asks you to convey to the families of the injured his spiritual closeness at this time of grief.

"Upon the people of Great Britain he invokes the consolation that only god can give in such circumstances."

The news of the London attacks caused "sorrow" in the Vatican, where the Office of the Secretary of State is keeping in close touch with what is happening in the British capital.

It is still unclear as to how the events unfolded and who was behind them.

Early reports spoke of nine attacks—six in the underground and three on buses.

According to Scotland Yard, the terrorist plan was aimed at the London transit system.

Metropolitan Police Chief Commissioner Ian Blair said traces of explosives were found at one of the blasts.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that "[i]t's reasonably clear that there have been a series of terrorist attacks in London".

In the meantime, intelligence sources are giving little credence to a statement issued by an organisation calling itself the Secret Organisation Group of al-Qaeda of Jihad Organisation in Europe that appeared on an Islamist Website claiming responsibility for the London bombings.

Experts suggest that the language used in the statement does not correspond to al-Qaeda's traditional writing style.

The attacks were carried out a day after London was awarded the 2012 Olympic Games, a day that marks the start of the G8 summit in Gleneagles (Scotland).

Prime Minister Blair said that the attacks might be directed at the G8 meeting, adding that it would be "particularly barbaric that this has happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa".

Among terrorism experts, the talk is of another attack against the Western world similar to those that hit New York on September 11, 2001, and Madrid on March 11, 2004.

The most surprising thing is that terrorists were able to strike one of the most secured and better defended capitals in the world.