Troops patrol the streets of London after bombing
PRIME MINISTER DEPLOYS TROOPS AFTER BOMBING ON CROWDED TRAIN LEAVES MORE THAN 20 INJURED
Prime Minister Theresa May ordered troops on to the streets Friday night after a suspected Islamist placed a powerful time-bomb on a packed rush-hour train heading toward Westminster, in the heart of the historic capital city.
May made the decision after the independent Joint Terrorism Assessment Centre recommended raising the terror threat to its highest level, Critical, meaning another attack is believed to be imminent. The Army began deploying troops at key locations to free up police, who were involved in a huge manhunt.
ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack, which left more than 20 people injured when an improvised explosive device went off on a packed train at Parsons Green in southwest London. The main device, which was packed with shrapnel and fitted with a crude timer, failed to detonate, meaning potentially hundreds of lives were spared.
The device, which was in a 10-litre plastic bucket inside a white plastic supermarket bag, also appeared to have been covered with a black cloth, perhaps to try to mask the smell from any chemicals in the bucket and disguise what was inside.
Mercifully, the main explosive charge failed to go off. Police think the bomb may have accidentally detonated prematurely, with the vastly larger Westminster station the intended target. Sources said the bomb was packed with nuts, bolts and nails to cause maximum devastation when it exploded, similar to the one used by Salman Abedi in the suicide attack on the Manchester Arena earlier this year in which 22 people were killed.
Chaos ensued as hundreds of people, some of them suffering burns, poured from the train, which can hold up to 800 people.
“I ended up squashed on the staircase. People were falling over, people fainting, crying. There were little kids clinging onto the back of me,” said one commuter, Ryan Barnett.
Peter Crowley, a sales consultant, posted a picture on his Twitter feed showing his charred scalp, his hair burnt to the roots.
“I heard a large bang from the doors on the other side of the Tube train and this fireball came towards my head and singed off all my hair,” said Crowley. “It was a really hot intense fireball above my head. I’ve just got red marks and burns to the top of my head. There were a lot of people a lot worse than me.”
He saw one man burnt across the side of his face while the whole of the back of his jacket was set alight.
Lauren Hubbard, who was in the last car of the train with her boyfriend, heard a loud bang and saw a “fireball” racing in her direction.
“It was hot and just came towards you, this flaming orange coming towards you. It smelt like burning,” she recalled, “We ran and hid behind cement boxes on the tracks and were the last people to get off the platform.”
She knew straight away what was happening. “My first thought was: ‘this is a terrorist attack, I’m going to die.’ ”
Images of the device, taken by quick-thinking passengers, showed a string of LED Christmas lights protruding from the top of the bucket, which one expert suggested could have been used as part of a crude timer mechanism. The lights, which would be attached to a battery and could be set to flash intermittently, would be used to deliver a charge into the detonator.
Theoretically, the bomber could have set the lights to flash on a delay, giving himself a short window in which to escape before the device detonated. But it is thought the detonator, which is usually made up of volatile or flammable materials, burst into flames prematurely, perhaps as a result of friction within the device caused by the moving train, or possibly because the bomber failed to get the correct mix of chemicals needed in order to complete the chain reaction needed for an explosion.
David Videcette, a former police counter-terrorism officer who investigated the so-called 7/7 attacks in July 2005 that killed 56 and injured nearly 800 people in London, said the IED appeared to have many similarities with previous devices.
A plastic bucket burns inside a London subway train on Friday. The bucket is believed to contain a bomb, packed with nuts, bolts and nails, used by terrorists that injured more than 20 train passengers. The main explosive charge failed to go off, sparing further injuries and potential deaths, investigators believe.