Britain on highest alert as manhunt under way
Britain is on critical terror alert with military troops set to bolster police forces as police hunt for the Parsons Green bomber.
A manhunt is under way after the improvised explosive device (IED) sent a fireball through a packed London Underground train carriage in south west London, during morning rush-hour — 29 people were injured, though they are not believed to be seriously hurt.
In the wake of the attack, Prime Minister Theresa May raised the threat level to the highest possible rating, meaning another attack is expected imminently.
The Islamic State (IS) terror group claimed responsibility for yesterday’s attack through its Amaq news agency, according to the USbased Site Intelligence. Rita Katz, director of Site, said IS claimed the bombing was the work of a “detachment” rather than simply a “soldier”, which she said implied it was a co-ordinated attack.
The terror group has fre- quently declared that it was behind terrorist incidents in recent years but experts have warned that their claims should be treated with caution.
Ms May said military personnel would replace police officers “on guard duties at certain protected sites which are not accessible to the public”.
She said: “The public will see more armed police on the transport network and on our streets, providing extra protection. This is a proportionate and sensible step which will provide extra reassurance and protection while the investigation progresses.”
Scotland Yard have launched a huge counter-terrorism investigation alongside MI5, while the device is being forensically examined.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan told LBC radio “there is a manhunt under way as we speak”, while Scotland Yard said detectives are making “fast-time” inquiries to establish who was responsible.
Meanwhile, Theresa May strongly rebuked Donald Trump over his claim the perpetrators of the Parsons Green Tube bombing had been known to police.
After chairing a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergencies committee, Ms May said it was not “helpful” to speculate on what was an ongoing investigation.
Police suspect the explosion was sparked when an improvised explosive device was detonated, and have launched a huge counter-terrorism investigation alongside MI5.
The device is being forensically examined while detectives are scouring CCTV and examining witness statements for potential leads.
The blast comes with the UK on high alert following four terrorist attacks so far this year. Authorities have foiled 19 plots since the middle of 2013 — including six since the Westminster atrocity in March.
The incident comes a day after figures showed terrorrelated arrests in Britain have hit a new record high, with suspects held at a rate of more than one every day.
Police and MI5 are running 500 investigations involving 3,000 individuals at any one time, while there are also 20,000 former “subjects of interest” whose risk must be kept under review.
UK prime minister Theresa May has raised concerns with US President Donald Trump over his claim the perpetrators of the Parsons Green Tube bombing had been “in the sights” of Scotland Yard.
It came as hundreds of police embarked on a massive manhunt, racing to find out who placed a homemade bomb on a packed London subway train during the morning rush hour.
The explosion — labelled a terrorist attack by police — wounded 29 people and ignited a panicked stampede to safety. Experts said London may have escaped far worse carnage because it appeared the bomb only partially exploded.
After a meeting of her government’s Cobra emergencies committee, Ms May publicly rebuked the US president, saying was not “helpful” to speculate on what was an ongoing investigation.
In a tweet issued within hours of the blast, Mr Trump wrote: “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!”
Ms May is understood to have raised the issue during a “cordial” telephone call.
Mr Trump’s intervention threatened to place fresh strain on the US-UK intelligence-sharing relationship which has come under pressure a number of times since he entered the White House.
The Metropolitan Police said the president’s comments — which did not correspond with any information released by the UK authorities — were “unhelpful” and “pure speculation”.
Ms May said: “I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation. The police and security services are working to discover the full circumstances of this cowardly attack and to identify all those responsible.”
Asked later if he had been briefed on intelligence about the attack, Mr Trump appeared to sidestep the issue saying he had been briefed “on numerous things” including North Korea.
“It’s a terrible thing. It just keeps going and going, and we have to be very smart, we have to be very, very tough. Perhaps we are not nearly tough enough,” he said.
“It’s just an absolutely terrible thing. In fact, I’m going to call the prime minister right now. We have to be tougher and we have to be smarter.”
Downing Street said Mr Trump had offered his condolences over the attack during a telephone call.
The terrorist attack was the fifth in Britain this year.
Witnesses described seeing a “wall of fire” as the bomb — hidden in a plastic bucket inside a supermarket freezer bag — went off about 8.20am while the train was at the Parsons Green station in southwest London. Police said there had been no arrests, but hundreds of detectives, aided by intelligence agents, were looking at surveillance footage, carrying out forensic work and speaking to witnesses.
It’s not clear if the device was intended to explode when it did. The site of the blast was in a leafy, affluent part of the city, not near any of London’s top tourist sites.
Photos taken inside the train show a white plastic bucket inside a foil-lined shopping bag. Flames and what appear to be wires emerge from the top.
British Transport Police at Euston Station, London, after the terrorist incident on a packed Tube train.
An injured woman is assisted by a police officer close to Parsons Green station in west London after a terrorist incident which saw a ‘fireball’ and a ‘wall of flame’ through a packed train.
Armed police out in force after the explosion.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley speaks to the media following the blast.
A forensic tent on the platform at Parsons Green station.