Hunt for Tube ‘bucket bomber’ who in­jured 29 in bun­gled blast

■Prime min­is­ter or­ders sol­diers on to streets as ter­ror threat is raised Most of the ca­su­al­ties suf­fer mi­nor burns but some tram­pled in panic

Irish Independent - - NEWS - Kevin Coombs

BRI­TAIN’S prime min­is­ter or­dered troops on to the streets last night af­ter a sus­pected Is­lamist placed a pow­er­ful timebomb on a packed rush-hour train head­ing to­wards Westminster.

Theresa May took 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 will de­ploy troops at key lo­ca­tions around the cap­i­tal to free up po­lice who were last night in­volved in a huge man­hunt.

Ter­ror group Isil claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, which left 29 peo­ple in­jured – in­clud­ing a boy of 10 – when an im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice went off on a packed Dis­trict line train at Par­sons Green in south-west Lon­don. At least one Ir­ish per­son was con­firmed in­jured, though not se­ri­ously.

The main de­vice, which was packed with shrap­nel and fit­ted with a crude timer, failed to detonate, mean­ing po­ten­tially hun­dreds of lives were spared.

Po­lice think the bomb may have ac­ci­den­tally det­o­nated pre­ma­turely, with Westminster sta­tion the in­tended tar­get.

Wit­nesses de­scribed scenes of ter­ror and panic af­ter the blast sent a “fire­ball” and a “wall of flame” through the car­riage.

A ma­jor man­hunt for the bomber has been launched, with po­lice work­ing with MI5 as they ex­am­ine the de­vice.

No ar­rests have so far been made and the at­tacker re­mains at large, with a re­port that the se­cu­rity ser­vices have iden­ti­fied a sus­pect from CCTV.

Af­ter the at­tack dur­ing the morn­ing rush-hour, Bri­tain’s most se­nior counter-ter­ror of­fi­cer Mark Row­ley said: “We now as­sess this was a det­o­na­tion of an im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice.”

Most of the in­jured suf­fered “flash burns” from the de­vice. Oth­ers were tram­pled and suf­fered crush in­juries in the rush to es­cape the packed car­riage, which was the last in the train.

Wit­nesses re­ported see­ing peo­ple “cov­ered in blood” af­ter a “flash and a bang” from the de­vice sent a “fire­ball” through the packed Tube train.

Pic­tures and video posted on so­cial me­dia showed a flam­ing bucket – which ap­peared to have wires com­ing from it – in­side a Lidl car­rier bag on the floor of a car­riage.

Emer­gency ser­vices in­clud­ing armed po­lice rushed to the scene af­ter be­ing alerted at around 8.20am.

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 Mr Crow­ley (37) from Sut­ton in south Lon­don. “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 his puffa jacket was set alight.

A caller to LBC ra­dio sta­tion said he was speak­ing from hos­pi­tal where he was be­ing treated for burns. “It’s my head, and it’s my hair. Just hurts. It’s crazy. There was a flame in my face. There were just peo­ple with hair on fire... hands on fire.”

Luke Warm­s­ley (33) who was on the train, said: “It was like a large match had gone off at the end of the car­riage. There was a plume of smoke. I looked and just saw more and more peo­ple run­ning to­wards me.”

Lau­ren Hub­bard (24) who was in the end car­riage 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’.”

Mrs May re­turned to Lon­don to chair a meet­ing of Bri­tain’s emer­gency re­sponse com­mit­tee later yes­ter­day.

“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,” Mrs May said.

Taoiseach Leo Varad­kar said: “We’ve been in touch with our em­bassy in Lon­don in re­la­tion to the sus­pected ter­ror­ist at­tack that oc­curred on the Lon­don Un­der­ground to­day.

“We will con­tinue to keep in touch with the au­thor­i­ties in Lon­don and a helpline has been es­tab­lished for any­body seek­ing in­for­ma­tion.”

The num­ber is (01) 4082527.

Armed po­lice at Par­sons Green tube sta­tion in Lon­don

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