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Security Revved Up for London Marathon

  • Selah Hennessy

Security will be in high gear for the London Marathon this Sunday after this week's bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured more than 170. Analysts say the security plan will be similar to what was in place for last year's London Olympics.

London’s security services are planning a major security operation following the two blasts at Boston’s marathon on Monday.

U.S. authorities said the bombs were made of pressure cookers stuffed with explosives, nails, and ball bearings. They suspect the bombs were concealed in backpacks and left at the marathon.

Analysts say, like many terror threats since the turn of the century, the attack was coordinated, in a crowded space, and at a media-friendly event.

According to security analyst Jennifer Cole, it's just the type of attack for which British security services are on high alert.

The FBI has released CCTV footage identifying two suspects. She said the same kind of surveillance technology is a major part of London’s security operations.

"Those type[s] of images are the images that the operators would have been trained to look for. The leaving of the bag and moving away from it is something that our specific software picks up that type of movement," Cole said. "So there is nothing I would say that we have seen from the Boston attacks that would lead us to think about changing the way that we would [do] security for the London marathon.”

On Wednesday, London held a major high security event with the funeral of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Cole said security measures for the funeral are being rolled over to Sunday’s marathon. And she said events like last year's Olympic torch relay across Britain and Olympic marathons on London’s streets gave security officials good training.

“What we will do [are doing] is applying the security that was put in place for the Olympics marathon to the London marathon," she said. "And the short period of time that there have been means that the systems that were put in place for that - the training that people had - is still very fresh in people’s minds. So just being able to switch from that relatively low security operation to a high operation very quickly is going to be easy.”

On Friday, Londoners said they were not worried about a potential security threat.

One person said, “I am sure it is going to be absolutely fine. And I do not think we should get concerned about it. And I am quite blithe and unconcerned.”

Another said, “Nothing is has really happened around here. It has been pretty safe. I have been here for three years, so I am not really worried.”

Thirty-thousand runners will be sweating it out on Sunday - but the security services, too, have a challenging day ahead.

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