Bomb ex­plodes on train

Ter­ror at­tack leaves 29 peo­ple in­jured on Lon­don tube train

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - WORLD NEWS - JILL LAW­LESS and GRE­GORY KATZ

LON­DON — A home­made bomb planted in a rush-hour sub­way car ex­ploded in Lon­don on Fri­day, in­jur­ing 29 peo­ple and prompt­ing author­i­ties to raise Britain’s ter­ror­ism threat level to “crit­i­cal,” mean­ing an­other at­tack may be im­mi­nent.

The early morn­ing blast sparked a huge man­hunt for the per­pe­tra­tors of what po­lice said was the fourth ter­ror­ist at­tack in the Bri­tish cap­i­tal this year.

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, act­ing on the rec­om­men­da­tion of the Joint Ter­ror­ism Anal­y­sis Cen­tre, raised the coun­try’s threat level from “se­vere” to “crit­i­cal” — its high­est pos­si­ble level. May said mil­i­tary troops would aug­ment the po­lice pres­ence in a “pro­por­tion­ate and sen­si­ble step.”

Ear­lier, May said the de­vice had been “in­tended to cause sig­nif­i­cant harm.”

Still, to the re­lief of author­i­ties and Lon­don­ers, ex­perts said the bomb — hid­den in a plas­tic bucket in­side a su­per­mar­ket freezer bag — only par­tially ex­ploded, spar­ing the city much worse car­nage.

“I would say this was a failed high­ex­plo­sive de­vice,” Chris Hunter, a for­mer Bri­tish army bomb ex­pert, said of the blast, which caused no se­ri­ous in­juries.

Is­lamic State claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, which it said was car­ried out by an af­fil­i­ated unit.

The bomb went off around 8:20 a.m. lo­cal time as the train, car­ry­ing com­muters from the sub­urbs — in­clud­ing many school chil­dren — was at Par­sons Green sta­tion in the south­west of the city.

Wit­ness Chris Wild­ish told Sky News that he saw “out of the cor­ner of my eye, a mas­sive flash of flames that went up the side of the train,” fol­lowed by “an acrid chem­i­cal smell.”

Com­muter Lau­ren Hub­bard said she was on the train when she heard a loud bang.

“I looked around and this wall of fire was just com­ing to­ward us,” Hub­bard said. She said her in­stinct was “just run,” and she fled the above-ground sta­tion with her boyfriend.

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 an­other com­muter, Ryan Bar­nett.

Pas­sen­ger Luke Walm­s­ley said it was “like ev­ery man for him­self to get down the stairs.”

“Peo­ple were just push­ing,” he added. “There were nan­nies or mums ask­ing where their chil­dren were.”

Po­lice and health of­fi­cials said 29 peo­ple were treated in Lon­don hos­pi­tals, most of them for flash burns.

None of the in­juries were se­ri­ous or life-threat­en­ing, the emer­gency ser­vices said.

Trains were sus­pended along a stretch of the Un­der­ground’s District Line, and sev­eral homes were evac­u­ated as po­lice set up a 50-me­tre cor­don around the scene while they se­cured the de­vice and launched a search for those who planted it.

The Metropoli­tan Po­lice said hun­dreds of de­tec­tives, along with agents of the do­mes­tic spy agency MI5, were look­ing at sur­veil­lance cam­era footage, car­ry­ing out foren­sic work and speak­ing to wit­nesses.

Among ques­tions they were rush­ing to an­swer: What was the de­vice made from, and was it meant to go off when it did, in a leafy, af­flu­ent part of the city far from Lon­don’s top tourist sites?

Bri­tish me­dia re­ported that the bomb in­cluded a timer. Lewis Her­ring­ton, a ter­ror­ism ex­pert at Lough­bor­ough Univer­sity, said that would set it apart from sui­cide at­tacks like those on the Lon­don sub­way in 2005 or at Manch­ester Arena in May, in which the at­tack­ers “all wanted to die.”

Ter­ror­ism an­a­lyst Mag­nus Ranstorp of the Swedish De­fence Univer­sity said that from the pho­tos it ap­peared the bomb did not fully det­o­nate, as much of the de­vice and its cas­ing re­mained in­tact.

“They were re­ally lucky with this one, it could have re­ally be­come much worse,” he said.

Hunter said it ap­peared that “there was a bang, a bit of a flash, and that would sug­gest that, po­ten­tially, some of the ex­plo­sive det­o­nated, the det­o­na­tor det­o­nated, but much of the ex­plo­sive was ef­fec­tively in­ert.”

Po­lice and am­bu­lances were on the scene within min­utes of the blast, a tes­ta­ment to their ex­pe­ri­ence at re­spond­ing to vi­o­lent at­tacks in Lon­don.

The city has been a tar­get for decades: From Ir­ish Repub­li­can Army bombers, right-wing ex­trem­ists, and more re­cently, at­tack­ers in­spired by al-Qaida or Is­lamic State.

Britain has seen four other ter­ror­ist at­tacks this year, which killed a to­tal of 36 peo­ple.

The other at­tacks in Lon­don — near Par­lia­ment, on Lon­don Bridge and near a mosque in Fins­bury Park in north Lon­don — used ve­hi­cles and knives. Sim­i­lar meth­ods have been used in at­tacks across Europe, in­clud­ing in Nice, Stock­holm, Ber­lin and Barcelona.

The coun­try’s threat level was briefly raised to crit­i­cal, mean­ing an at­tack may be im­mi­nent, af­ter the May 22 sui­cide bomb­ing at Manch­ester Arena that killed 22 peo­ple.

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/GETTY IM­AGES

A Bri­tish po­lice of­fi­cer stands on duty out­side Par­sons Green tube sta­tion in south­west Lon­don on Fri­day, fol­low­ing a bomb­ing on a tube train at the sta­tion that in­ured 29 peo­ple.

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