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COUNTRY'S OFFICIALS CALL FOR UNITED EFFORTS TO COMBAT TERRORISM

Slovakia shattered by London drama

ALTHOUGH no Slovaks have been reported killed or wounded in the July 7 terrorist attacks on London, Slovakia is still reeling from the images transmitted by the media from Britain to this central European nation. The attacks, the most lethal terrorist strike ever on British soil, came during a meeting of the leaders of the G8, the world's wealthiest and most influential nations, to discuss global issues in Great Britain. Slovak officials expressed regrets and condolences to the people of London. In a letter to his British counterpart Tony Blair, Slovak Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda condemned the attacks.

ALTHOUGH no Slovaks have been reported killed or wounded in the July 7 terrorist attacks on London, Slovakia is still reeling from the images transmitted by the media from Britain to this central European nation.

The attacks, the most lethal terrorist strike ever on British soil, came during a meeting of the leaders of the G8, the world's wealthiest and most influential nations, to discuss global issues in Great Britain.

Slovak officials expressed regrets and condolences to the people of London. In a letter to his British counterpart Tony Blair, Slovak Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda condemned the attacks.

"The inhabitants of London have our full moral support and I am convinced that they will handle the consequences of this barbarian terrorist attack with their heads held high," wrote Dzurinda.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry has received no information that Slovak citizens were among the 37 people reported to have been killed and 700 wounded during the terrorist attacks on London's public transport system, the news wire TASR wrote.

"We are in continuous contact with the authorities," said ministry spokesman Juraj Tomaga.

The Slovak Embassy in London set up a crisis team to monitor and evaluate the situation.

Slovak president Ivan Gasparovič said he believed the terrorist attacks should be an impulse for countries to unite in their efforts to combat terrorism. He said that Slovaks needed to understand the real nature of terrorism and that it was necessary to stand united against it.

Pavol Hrušovský, the Speaker of the Slovak Parliament, joined in condemning the terrorists and said that "this inhumane act against the innocent inhabitants of London is proof of the hatred and pride of its authors.

"We will continue to cooperate with all states that stand side by side in the fight against terror," he said.

The country's Interior Minister, Vladimír Palko, reported that Slovakia has approved special security measures in response to the attacks. The authorities have no information on terrorist attacks being prepared in Slovakia.

"It was attack against a Slovak ally - Great Britain - which is also a NATO member and the country currently holding the presidency of the European Union. I would like to express my sympathy and sorrow to the victims, their families and all the people of Britain," Palko added.

The head of the Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Security, Robert Kaliňák, called Thursday's terrorist attacks in London a catastrophe.

"We now need to get the European powers together in order to defend ourselves from such threats," Kaliňák told TASR on July 7.

According to Kaliňák, at the committee's next session, members will examine any possible terrorist threats to Slovakia, assessing all information in detail.

The chairman of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) opposition party, Vladimír Mečiar, also sent a letter of condolence to British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"These terrorist attacks are inexcusable. They are nothing but cowardly attacks on civilians in the most vulnerable public places," wrote Mečiar in his letter.

Since several thousand Slovaks are reported to be in London at the moment, the HZDS said it considered the terrorist attacks to be directed also against Slovakia, a fellow EU member.

The people of Slovakia "are shocked by the news of the London tragedy", Mečiar added.

The SME daily reported that many of the Slovaks who live in Britain found themselves near the explosions. A Slovak woman, Eva Boardman, exited a metro station only minutes before a bomb exploded there.

One of the terrorists suspected of planning the terrorist attacks at the London metro reportedly lived for a short time in Slovakia, according to the security report on Slovakia for 2004, wrote the Nový Čas daily.

However, the spokesman of the country's SIS intelligence service, Vladimír Šimko, refused to comment on the report.

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