Show of Solidarity Europe Shocked by Boston Bombings
European leaders on Tuesday offered their condolences to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, expressing widespread shock over the attacks. With a number of major sporting events coming up in their own countries, officials are also scrambling to increase security.
In the wake of bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon, European leaders on Tuesday expressed their sympathy and solidarity with the United States. Practical concerns were also on the minds of sporting event organizers, who said they would be adjusting their plans to suit fresh security concerns.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel released a statement on Tuesday, expressing her "horror" at the events in Boston, which killed at least three and left some 176 injured, more than a dozen critically. Her thoughts are with the victims and their families, she said. "Nothing justifies such a malicious attack on people who have gathered for a peaceful sporting event," she wrote. "I hope that those responsible will soon be brought to justice."
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also said he was "deeply shocked" by the bombing, which an anonymous White House official said was being treated as a terrorist act. "What should have been nothing more than a happy sporting event with long-standing tradition for tens of thousands of runners from Boston and around the world has turned into a tragedy," he said on Tuesday.
While the German Interior Ministry said it did not see reason to increase security in the country, organizers of the Berlin marathon, scheduled for this September, said they would reconsider their security plans following the Boston bombing. "We need to get the information and discuss what happened in Boston," the event's director Mark Milde told German broadcaster ZDF. "Then we will draw our conclusions in coordination with the authorities." Still, Milde added, seamlessly securing the more than 42 kilometers of the race's path is challenging.
Security Concerns ahead of London Marathon
British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted that he found the images coming from Boston to be "shocking and horrific," adding that his "thoughts are with all those who have been affected."
But with the London Marathon coming up this Sunday, officials in the British capital are scrambling to review security measures for the event, which will attract some 36,000 runners. "It is a very sad day for athletics and for our friends and colleagues in marathon running," organizer Nick Bitel said in a statement on Monday night, adding that event coordinators had contacted London police directly after learning of the bombing. "When you have an event of any nature, a marathon, parade, it's only as safe as the city itself. If it's not held in a stadium you can't do a lockdown like you may do in a building," he later told the BBC.
Organizers of the World Athletics Championship this August in Moscow also said they would increase security for their event, which is being viewed as a dress rehearsal for the 2014 Winter Olympics in the country's Black Sea resort city of Sochi. In a statement, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered both his condolences and assistance in investigating the "barbaric crime," adding that the "fight against terrorism requires the coordination of the global community's efforts."
Extra Patrols in France
France said it had beefed up security nationwide too, with Interior Minister Manuel Valls sending regional police on extra patrols on Tuesday. He also urged residents to be on the lookout for suspicious objects, but not to panic. French President François Hollande expressed his sympathy for the bombing victims and promised his country's "full solidarity" with the US, according to a statement.
The outpouring of support from world leaders also included a statement by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who condemned what he called the "senseless violence."
Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign affairs representative, also released a statement on Tuesday, calling the attack a "reprehensible" act. "We stand with the United States government and people in condemning this bombing."
Bombs Exploded at Crowded Moment
Some 23,000 runners and 500,000 spectators were at the race, which takes place each year on Patriots Day, a Massachusetts state holiday in honor of the first battles of the American Revolution in 1775. The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest and one of the most respected races, first established 116 years ago.
Two bombs went off near the four-hour mark of the race, a typically crowded time when many recreational runners are finishing and surrounded by cheering family and friends.
While officials are still investigating the incident, an anonymous White House official told news agency AP that the incident was being treated as a terrorist act. The two bombings appeared to be coordinated. Boston's police commissioner said Tuesday morning that no one was in custody in connection to the bombings.
Immediately following the blasts, a no-fly zone was established over the site, while flights headed for the city's Logan International Airport were ordered to stay grounded across the US, where cities also stepped up their security measures.
kla -- with wires