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Survivors of world terror to attend memorial service for IRA Docklands bomb victims


Scene of the Docklands bombing in February 1996

Scene of the Docklands bombing in February 1996

Jonathan Ganesh, who survived the IRA blast

Jonathan Ganesh, who survived the IRA blast

An injured man is escorted to safety by police after the terror attacks in Paris

An injured man is escorted to safety by police after the terror attacks in Paris

Scene of the Docklands bombing in February 1996

Survivors of the Paris terror attacks will attend a memorial service in London marking the 20th anniversary of the Docklands bombing.

Two people died when a half-tonne IRA bomb ripped through London's regenerated commercial district in February 1996.

It marked the end of the IRA's 17-month ceasefire and caused almost £100 million worth of damage.

On Tuesday - the 20th anniversary of the bombing - a multi-faith service will be held to remember those killed. The event has been organised by the Docklands Victims Association, which was set up in the wake of the bombing.

Its president Jonathan Ganesh said victims of international terrorist attacks will be among those at the service.

These will include survivors and the families of those killed in the July 7, 2005 terror attacks in London, the 1983 Harrods bomb, as well as the Paris and Mumbai attacks. During the service 20 white doves will be released as a symbol of peace.

Mr Ganesh, who was pulled from the rubble of the blast, has campaigned for compensation from Libya for its role in supplying the Semtex used to detonate the bomb.

"I can't believe it is 20 years since the IRA with the help of Gaddafi blew up the London Docklands," he said. "It only seems like yesterday that I was trying to dig my way out of the rubble."

Inam Bashir (29) and John Jeffries (31) died when the bomb went off outside their shop just after 7pm on February 9, 1996. Another 39 people were injured. Mr Bashir's mother Hamida said: "It will be very sad and heartbreaking to attend my son's and John's memorial service.

"I'm so touched that after 20 years the community has never forgotten my poor son and his friend John. It breaks my heart that terrorists still kill innocent children." Joyce Brown was working as a cleaner at Midland Bank, one of three buildings severely damaged in the blast. She still has vivid memories of the attack.

"It is a day East London will never forget," she said.

"I was cleaning the toilets in the bank and the ceiling tiles came crushing down on my head. I was petrified. The boys in the newspaper shop were loved by all who knew them. I still think of them."

Victims' campaigner William Frazer, who plans to travel over for the service, said it was an "evil" act.

"The IRA and all other terrorist groups throughout the world have no conscience as they do not care who gets maimed or killed," he said. The Docklands attack marked the end of the first IRA ceasefire, which had been called in August 1994.

The bomb was left in a small lorry about 80 yards from South Quay Station. It exploded at 7.02pm after coded warnings were telephoned to media outlets in Belfast and Dublin. In June 1998 James McArdle, a bricklayer from Co Armagh, was found guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions and was jailed for 25 years.

Murder charges were dropped when the judge dismissed the jury because of concerns about Press coverage. McArdle was released in July 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Belfast Telegraph