Cork memorial service for Air India bombing anniversary

Air India wreckage
Image caption Wreckage of the Air India flight after it crashed in 1985

Relatives of 329 people killed when a bomb blew up an Air India flight off the coast of Cork have gathered to mark the 25th anniversary.

Sikh extremists were blamed for the bombing, which killed mainly Canadians of Indian descent travelling between Montreal and London en route to India.

The families joined Irish foreign affairs minister Michael Martin at Sheep's Head peninsula in West Cork.

A minute's silence was held at a monument to the victims.

It was followed by chanting from their relatives and the laying of wreaths.

"Those who use terrorism and violence in pursuit of their misguided objectives seek to divide people and communities with their agenda of hate and intolerance," Mr Martin told the ceremony.

'Shared grief'

He made his address in a seaside garden which features a stone sun dial permanently set to mark 0813 BST on 23 June.

"But looking at those gathered here today I see only unity, common purpose and a shared grief. This feeling of grief and loss transcends all boundaries. It joins us as one people," Mr Martin said.

Also taking part were Indian Minister for Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid and Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

In India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the 1985 attack "shook the world's conscience".

"No religion, faith or cause can justify such violence or inhumanity. On this solemn occasion, we must rededicate ourselves to fighting and eliminating terrorism with determination and joint action," he said.

The bombing, blamed on Canadian-based members of India's Sikh minority, remains the biggest mass murder in Canadian legal history.

Investigators found that those responsible used false identifications to check-in a suitcase bomb onto the plane without boarding the aircraft themselves.

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