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Police: 250 suicide bomb scares since 7/7

July 27, 2005 at 9:24 AM

LONDON, July 27 (UPI) -- British police have dealt with 250 suicide bomb scares since the July 7 London bombings, police chief Sir Ian Blair said.

On at least seven occasions officers have been on the brink of shooting to kill, the Metropolitan Police commissioner told Channel Four News Tuesday night.

Defending the shoot-to-kill policy which resulted in the death of innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes last Friday, Blair said that in those cases: "We have got as close to calling it as that and we haven't."

Blair said the killing of de Menezes -- who was shot in the head seven times after being mistaken for a suicide bomber -- was a "dreadful mistake" but the police had to protect the public.

"This is professional judgement. There are suicide bombers there and we have a job to do. It is a tragedy that should not divert us from the main issue," he said.

Previously Blair said he could not guarantee no other innocent civilians would be shot as a result of the policy.

De Menezes' death is now the subject of an inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which will also examine the use of shoot-to-kill on suspected suicide bombers.

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