UK raises threat level to crit­i­cal af­ter Tube bomb­ing in­jures 29

May says sol­diers will take over some po­lice du­ties as an­other at­tack ex­pected Hun­dreds of de­tec­tives and in­tel­li­gence ex­perts in mas­sive search for bomber

The Irish Times - - Front Page - DE­NIS STAUNTON Lon­don Edi­tor

Bri­tain last night raised its se­cu­rity threat level to crit­i­cal, the high­est pos­si­ble, as the bomber who caused an ex­plo­sion on a packed Lon­don com­muter train re­mained at large.

Bri­tish prime min­is­ter Theresa May said armed sol­diers would take over some po­lice du­ties as se­cu­rity chiefs con­cluded that an­other at­tack may be im­mi­nent. 29 peo­ple were in­jured when the bomb par­tially det­o­nated on the District Line train at Par­son’s Green sta­tion in west Lon­don at 8.20am yes­ter­day, at the height of the rush hour.

Wit­nesses de­scribed scenes of panic as pas­sen­gers sought to es­cape from a “wall of flame” cre­ated by the bomb, which was packed into a builder’s bucket in­side a Lidl su­per­mar­ket bag.

Most of those in­jured, who in­cluded a boy aged about 10, suf­fered flash burns but some were hurt in a stam­pede in the sta­tion as pas­sen­gers sought to flee.

Po­lice con­firmed within hours that they were treat­ing the in­ci­dent as a ter­ror­ist at­tack caused by an im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice. The bomb, which is be­lieved to have had a timer, ap­pears to have failed to det­o­nate fully.

CCTV footage

Hun­dreds of de­tec­tives and in­tel­li­gence ex­perts were last night en­gaged in a mas­sive coun­tert­er­ror­ism in­ves­ti­ga­tion aimed at find­ing the bomber. In­ves­ti­ga­tors were trawl­ing through CCTV footage from the sta­tions at which the train called be­fore the at­tack but the Metropoli­tan Po­lice last night dis­missed a re­port that they had iden­ti­fied a sus­pect.

Is­lamic State claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack but of­fered no ev­i­dence that the per­pe­tra­tor was linked to the group.

Ms May an­nounced that the threat level had been raised to crit­i­cal af­ter the sec­ond meet­ing yes­ter­day of the emer­gency Co­bra com­mit­tee.

The threat level was last raised to crit­i­cal, which means the in­tel­li­gence agen­cies be­lieve an at­tack is im­mi­nent, af­ter the Manch­ester Arena bomb­ing in May. She said the pub­lic could ex­pect to see more armed po­lice pa­trolling the streets and the trans­port net­work in the com­ing days.

“This is a pro­por­tion­ate and sen­si­ble step which will pro­vide ex­tra re­as­sur­ance and pro­tec­tion while the in­ves­ti­ga­tion pro­gresses,” she said.

Ear­lier, Ms May de­scribed as “un­help­ful” a tweet from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump which sug­gested the bomber was known to the Bri­tish au­thor­i­ties.

“I never think it’s help­ful for any­one to spec­u­late on what is an on­go­ing sit­u­a­tion. As I’ve said the po­lice and se­cu­rity ser­vices are work­ing to un­der­stand the full cir­cum­stances of this cow­ardly at­tack and to iden­tify all those re­spon­si­ble,” she said.

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