Local News

Bombing Victims Harbor No Ill Will Toward Attackers

Posted July 18, 2005

— The Tennessee sisters injured in the London terrorist attacks harbor no ill will toward their attackers, but realize their lives will not be the same, their mother said Monday.

"You know, they lost their innocence" in a way most people never experience, Patty Benton said. "I don't know that we have any idea quite yet how this is going to impact us."

Emily Benton, 20, and Kathleen "Katie" Benton, 21, of Knoxville, Tenn., were tourists chatting about their day aboard a subway car on July 7 when the explosion sprayed hot metal and fire through the interior. They were just 10 feet from the bomb and thought they were on fire in the dark tunnel after the blast, Patty Benton said during a news conference Monday.

A woman seated two seats to their right was killed, said officials at Duke University Medical Center, where the sisters were taken for treatment three days after the explosion.

They were in good condition Monday at the Durham hospital. Emily Benton suffered broken bones and lost skin on her left foot and a fractured right hand. Katie Benton suffered shrapnel wounds in her right foot that exposed tendons and bones.

The bombings of three London subway trains and a bus killed 55 people, including the four suicide bombers, and injured some 700 others.

Though the Benton sisters are regaining their health, that has freed their minds to think back to the moments after the explosion, Patty Benton said.

""I won't lie to you that there's not anxiety there, that they're not having flashbacks," she said. "That there's not some sort of emotional stuff they're going to have to deal with."

Benton said she did not know how horrible the scene of the blast was until she listened to her daughters being interviewed by British authorities before their flight to North Carolina.

"They heard the noise -- they both described it like feeling their bodies were on fire," Patty Benton said. "When they opened their eyes, they were sitting on the floor in front of their seat, clinging to each other."

Doctors said the sisters were expected to spend another week at Duke before going home. They will return to Duke for more treatments in the following weeks, doctors said.

Patty Benton and her husband, Dudley, said they did not recognize the name of Mohammad Sidique Khan, the suspected suicide bomber who nearly killed the Benton sisters. The couple said they refuse to hate the terrorist who changed their daughters' lives.

"That's some awfully distorted lies they've been told, that this somehow is doing God's work," Dudley Benton told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday. "It's awful to fill people with lies like that and hatred, and I certainly am not going to let my heart dwell on such things or let that kind of anger and hatred build in my heart for them."

Patty Benton said she believes her daughters feel the same way. In fact, she said they have actually prayed for the bombers and their families.

The Sunday Times reported that the 30-year-old Khan was investigated last year by Britain's domestic intelligence service, but was not regarded as a threat to national security or put under surveillance. MI5 began evaluating Khan, a Briton of Pakistani ancestry, during an inquiry that focused on an alleged plot to explode a large truck bomb outside a target in London, the newspaper said.

As for the sisters, their mother said they want to return to London at some point and finish their vacation.

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