Sec­ond ar­rest over Lon­don Tube bomb at­tack

The Australian - - FRONT PAGE - JACQUELIN MAGNAY LON­DON

Counter-ter­ror­ism po­lice yes­ter­day ar­rested a sec­ond man over the chem­i­cal at­tack on Lon­don’s Dis­trict line Tube, fol­low­ing raids on a prop­erty sus­pected of be­ing a bomb fac­tory.

The 21-year-old was ar­rested late on Saturday night, Bri­tish time, in Houn­slow, 6km from Sun­bury where po­lice raided a prop­erty on Saturday in con­nec­tion with the at­tack. Po­lice were last night con­tin­u­ing to seek more as­so­ciates. Counter-ter­ror­ism of­fi­cers had ar­rested an 18-year-old man in Dover on Saturday morn­ing as he tried to board a ferry for France. Po­lice said the ar­rest was sig­nif­i­cant.

The 18-year-old is be­lieved to be a Mid­dle East­ern refugee well known to the po­lice. He is thought to have ex­ploited the gen­eros­ity of an el­derly cou­ple, liv­ing with them in Sun­bury-onThames, an hour from the bomb­ing at­tempt.

The “amaz­ing’’ foster car­ers Pene­lope Jones, 71 and hus­band Ron­ald, 89, had been in de­spair about an 18-year-old, be­lieved to be a Syr­ian or Iraqi refugee, who had been in trou­ble with po­lice a fort­night ago.

One neigh­bour whose home backs onto the Jone­ses’ prop­erty said the “aw­ful’’ 18-year-old had been ar­rested by po­lice at Par­sons Green two weeks ago but was re­turned to the cou­ple, prompt­ing Mrs Jones to ex­press doubts about her abil­ity to care for him.

Mr and Mrs Jones were awarded MBEs by the Queen eight years ago for their work with chil­dren af­ter open­ing their home to more than 250 foster chil­dren across al­most half a cen­tury of com­mu­nity con­tri­bu­tions.

De­spite the threat level be­ing set at crit­i­cal — mean­ing an­other at­tack is be­lieved im­mi­nent —

po­lice have re­fused to re­lease images of the bomb­ing sus­pects. This could be be­cause none of the faces of those in­volved is vis­i­ble, or to avoid a po­ten­tial anti-Mus­lim back­lash.

Scores of heav­ily armed po­lice raided the Sun­bury prop­erty five hours af­ter the ar­rest at Dover. Fear­ing the house may have been a bomb fac­tory, they evac­u­ated a large area, and neigh­bours were or­dered to spend the night else­where.

Sev­eral vic­tims of the bomb, which only partly ex­ploded at 8.20am, re­main in hos­pi­tal re­ceiv­ing treat­ment for burns.

Wit­nesses de­scribed peo­ple badly burned with their hair com­ing off. One woman was burned “from top to toe’’, while an el­derly man took the brunt of the explosion in his face.

The part of the bomb that ex­ploded cre­ated a fire­ball that spread through the rear car­riage of the Tube train, caus­ing a stam­pede for the station exit.

Se­cu­rity ex­perts say the bomb, which con­tained the ‘‘mother of Satan’’ chem­i­cal TATP, would have killed dozens of peo­ple and in­jured hun­dreds if not for a faulty timer.

Po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether the in­tended tar­get was the Tube stop near West­min­ster af­ter mes­sages be­tween Is­lamic State sup­port­ers on pri­vate mes­sag­ing sites the pre­vi­ous day crowed “Lon­don this is just the be­gin­ning’’, with pic­tures of Big Ben in crosshairs and Tower Bridge in flames.

Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice are un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure to re­veal more de­tails about what they knew of the ar­rested man.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tweeted early in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion that the bomb­ing had hap­pened un­der the noses of Scot­land Yard, a com­ment strongly re­jected by po­lice and Bri­tain’s Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May.

Home Sec­re­tary Am­ber Rudd said it ap­peared the bomber was not a lone wolf but it was “too early to reach any fi­nal con­clu­sions on that”. Asked if she could give any in­for­ma­tion on claims by Is­lamic State that there were other un­ex­ploded de­vices, she told BBC: “We don’t. “It is in­evitable that so­called Is­lamic State, or Daesh, will reach in and try and claim re­spon­si­bil­ity. We have no ev­i­dence to sug­gest that yet.”

She added that Mr Trump’s sug­ges­tion that the ter­ror­ist be­hind the at­tack was “in the sights of Scot­land Yard” was “pure spec­u­la­tion”. “It’s never help­ful to have spec­u­la­tion about an on­go­ing op­er­a­tion and I would in­clude the Pres­i­dent of the United States in that com­ment,’’ she said.

There is also con­cern it took 12 hours from the at­tack for Mrs May to an­nounce the in­creased threat level. In the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the bomb­ing, none of Lon­don’s other Tube or train lines were shut down, nor were there warn­ings to com­muters.

On Saturday Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Cres­sida Dick left the in­ves­ti­ga­tion to walk through cen­tral Lon­don to “re­as­sure’’ the pub­lic. The ter­ror at­tack was the fifth in Bri­tain this year and po­lice say seven sig­nif­i­cant plots have been foiled.

GETTY IMAGES

A foren­sic of­fi­cer in Sun­bury

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