EIGHT days after their bombs had failed to explode, five terrorist suspects had been identified, located and arrested by Britain's security services, although not without controversy. Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, criticised West Midlands police for using a Taser (stun gun) when arresting a suspect in Birmingham. He said: “A taser sends electric currents into the body. If there was a bomb on that body, the bomb can go off.” Speaking about the killing by armed police of an innocent Brazilian in London, Sir Ian said: “The important thing here is there's nothing gratuitous in what's going on; there's nothing, you know, cavalier here. There's no conspiracy to shoot people.” The Irish Republican Army said it was ending its 35-year campaign of terror to achieve the return of the six counties of Northern Ireland to the Irish Republic and would instead pursue its objectives by political means; its weapons would be put out of use and its members instructed to act peacefully and democratically. Mr Tony Blair said that the IRA's announcement was “a step of unprecedented magnitude in the recent history of Northern Ireland”. Ulster Unionists, led by the Rev Ian Paisley, were sceptical, saying that the proof of change would be in actions, not words. Unidentified terrorists struck at the tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt; most of the 70 or more killed were Egyptians. Violence continued in Iraq: gunmen killed 17 people leaving a factory near Baghdad and two Algerian diplomats were kidnapped. In New York, five British Sikhs from Birmingham were taken from a tourist bus in Times Square and made to kneel with their hands behind their heads by police; the Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, apologised on behalf of New York City. The US shuttle Discovery was successfully launched into space but doubts remained about possible damage that would affect its safe re-entry. In Britain, every child between the age of eight months and four years will receive a bag of books, provided by the State at a cost of 27 million pounds. A “pastoral statement” by the Church of England said that clergy may cohabit under the Civil Partnerships Act but only if they refrain from homosexual acts.


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