Tube bomb attack sparks terror hunt
Knifeman attacks soldier in Paris
A huge counter-terror operation was under way in London last after a chemical bomb exploded on a packed Tube train.
Police believe the bomb, which reportedly was fitted with a timer, may have malfunctioned, resulting in 22 people being injured, many of them with “flash burns”, but avoiding a huge death toll. Many of the injured were hurt jumping from the train in panic.
The bomb, comprised of chemicals in a builder’s bucket and hidden inside a Lidl grocery bag, exploded at 8.20am (5.20pm AEST) during the morning rush.
Witnesses described a flash and a ball of fire that spread down the Tube carriage as the train was pulling into Parsons Green, having left Wimbledon for central London.
The attack had the hallmarks of the chemical bomb plot un- covered by Australian Federal Police this year, in which Barbie bomb-plot accused Khaled Khayat and Mahmoud Khayat are also alleged to have planned to attack Sydney’s transport system.
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “My thoughts are with those injured at Parsons Green and the emergency services who, once again, are responding swiftly and bravely to a suspected terrorist incident.”
But Donald Trump took to Twitter to suggest police were at fault: “Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!” The US President added:
“Loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner. The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off & use better!”
In the Parsons Green attack, security experts believed the bomb failed to work as intended, avoiding what could have been a large death toll. Analysts believe the bomb was fairly crude, but would have involved a team of terrorists, and was unlikely to be the work of a lone wolf.
Peter, one of the victims who had burns to his head, told the BBC: “It was a really hot, intense fireball above my head. There was a lot of people a lot worse than me. I saw a gentleman in a puffer jacket and the whole back of that had been burned. He had burn marks across his face which were a lot worse than mine. Mostly it was facial injuries, I didn’t see any blood as such. It was sheer panic.’’
A witness who works for the Metro newspaper said people were “really badly burned” and “their hair was coming off”. Another woman was burned “from top to toe’’ while anther witness said an elderly man took the brunt of the explosion in his face.
Michael Bennett, 38, told the London Evening Standard: “I was towards the front of the rear carriage. As the train pulled into the PARIS: France has opened a counter-terrorism inquiry after a man wielding a knife attacked a soldier in a Paris subway station yesterday, the latest incident targeting troops protecting the capital’s transport hubs and tourist sites.
Paris and other European capitals are on high alert after a wave of attacks in past years by Islamist militants, many of them inspired by Islamic State. The Paris incident occurred platform there was a huge noise. I wasn’t facing it at the time. I just heard a big noise and saw a shot of flames come past. I could feel it singe the back of my head.”
Fellow commuter Chris Wilds said: “There was a very strong smell of chemicals, not a burning smell. A flash went up into the roof of the carriage … there were very distressed children, and babies and an old gentleman took the brunt of the burning, with bad burns around his face.”
Commuters described “utter fear and panic’’ as hundreds of people, including many schoolchildren on their way to school, fled the train, causing some to stumble and fall. Pictures showed hours before several people were hurt at a London underground station in an apparent terrorism incident.
The assailant in Paris was wrestled to the ground and arrested. The soldier, part of Operation Sentinel, a force deployed in the wake of lethal Islamist attacks on France, escaped unhurt.
Police said the attack happened just before 6.30am as the morning rush hour got under way at the Chatelet subway station, where tens of thousands of commuters converge from Paris’s suburbs. commuters with burn injuries to their heads, and bags and papers strewn around the carriage.
BBC reporter Sophie Raworth saw a woman with burn film wrapped around her legs. “She has burns all over her body from top to toe, she is wrapped in protective film,’’ Raworth said.
Metropolitan Police counterterrorism officers arrived at the scene, along with experts in hazardous materials. In the chaotic hour after the blast hundreds of police, firefighters and ambulance officers swarmed the scene and set up a broad no-go area.
The day before, the Metropolitan Police had reported there had been 19 foiled terrorist plots since Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said the investigation was being handled by counter-terrorism specialists.
A source said the assailant was Moroccan-born and about 40. Police raids at an address linked to the suspect were ongoing, French media said the aggressor shouted references to Islamic State.
France announced on Thursday that the 7000-strong force was being adapted to make it more mobile and its movements less predictable. 2013. Britain’s terrorism threat level has been at severe — meaning an attack is highly likely — for the past few years.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Our city utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life. As London has proven again and again, we will never be intimidated or defeated by terrorism.’’
Mr Trump appeared to link the attack to his efforts to impose a travel ban on Muslim-majority countries: “The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific — but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!”
The bucket bomb at London’s Parsons Green
An injured woman is escorted by police from the scene of the attack at Parsons Green tube station in London
A policeman guards a cordon near Parsons Green station as, right, heavily armed officers secure the area