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
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.
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.