Relatives of 1996 London Docklands bombing ‘still suffering’ 25 years on, says survivor

Mike Bedigan, PA
·4-min read

Relatives of those affected by the 1996 London Docklands bombing are “still suffering to this day”, a survivor of the attack has said, on the 25th anniversary of the incident.

Tony Sharp, 59, who was seriously injured in the blast, said the attack was “an event that should never be forgotten” and hoped that victims will one day receive compensation.

The bomb was detonated on February 9 1996 by IRA terrorists near South Quay station, in east London, killing two people and injuring more than 100 others.

Residents in Tower Hamlets are being asked to observe a minute’s silence at 7.01pm on Tuesday evening to remember the two men who died, Inam Bashir and John Jeffries.

The pair had been working in their newspaper kiosk at the time the bomb was detonated.

Many of the other victims are still living with life-changing injuries.

“It’s an event that shouldn’t be forgotten, obviously it was a huge political event at the time and still is to this day,” Mr Sharp told the PA news agency.

“The significance to me is personal as well… it’s always going to be remembered by me and all the other people who were injured and affected, the families of those killed on the night.

“It’s a huge political issue – we know that – and whether it’s because of that that the Government is not doing anything or seems reluctant to do anything, I don’t know.

“After 25 years, the victims’ – the two people who were killed and the people who were severely injured at the time – relatives are still to this day suffering and the Government haven’t done anything.

“Hopefully one day compensation will be paid out to the people who should have the compensation.”

25th anniversary of London Docklands bombing
Aazim Ihsan, Ihsan Bashir, whose brother was killed, and Docklands Victims Association Jonathan Ganesh during the 25th anniversary memorial service (Aaron Chown/PA)

Mr Sharp has since been actively involved in the Docklands Victims Association (DVA), led by Mr Bashir’s late mother, Hamida Bashir, and Jonathan Ganesh, who was also injured in the attack.

Speaking about the day of the attack, he said: “I remember looking out the front of the office building which overlooked the little kiosk where the two people were unfortunately killed.

“There was no DLR running… but there was nothing to suggest that anything would happen and then, at a minute past seven, the bomb went off.

“I knew how lucky I was to be alive then, because just a few weeks earlier I had been sitting at the front of the office where I would have taken the full force of the blast.”

The socially distanced act of commemoration will take place at South Quay DLR station, where a commemorative plaque has been installed in memory of the victims.

Passenger service agents on board DLR trains will also observe a one-minute silence at 7.01pm.

Transport for London will run a message on the station’s platform information screens.

IRA attacks linked to Libyan explosives
Office buildings damaged by an IRA bomb in London’s Docklands in February 1996 (David Giles/PA)

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs will join survivors of the bombing and people from the local community at the commemoration.

He said: “I can still recall the moment when the borough felt the shockwave of the explosion on the island and the horror and devastation of what had happened became clear.

“As our community continues to live with the legacy of this horrific terrorist event, it is important for us to pause to remember John and Inam, those who were injured and those who lost their homes.”

Mr Sharp added that he hopes the plaque will serve as a permanent reminder of the incident for future generations.

“Obviously, because of Covid, it’s a bit restricted as to what can happen but I hope that as many people as possible can turn up (to the commemoration),” he said.

“To everyone from the area that remembers that night or if they don’t, (the plaque) is going to be here forever and ever.

“Whenever I come over to Docklands I always look at the plaque; I normally kiss it because of its significance to me personally.

“Future generations will know what happened on that night.”