Threat of Tube at­tack strikes fear in Lon­don:

Lon­don­ers used to ter­ror­ism but an Un­der­ground at­tack is dif­fer­ent

The Irish Times - - Front Page - De­nis Staunton

Af­ter four deadly ter­ror­ist at­tacks in the UK this year, yes­ter­day morn­ing’s in­ci­dent at Par­sons Green Tube sta­tion, in Ful­ham in west Lon­don, was rel­a­tively mi­nor in terms of ca­su­al­ties.

No­body was killed, and although 29 peo­ple were treated in hos­pi­tal none of their in­juries is be­lieved to be se­ri­ous.

The bomb, packed into a builder’s bucket and left on a District Line train in­side a Lidl su­per­mar­ket bag, ap­pears to have been poorly as­sem­bled and failed to det­o­nate.

The ex­plo­sion was strong enough to cre­ate a fire­ball, which caused the flash burns that ac­counted for most of the in­juries, but not suf­fi­cient to make a big­ger blast.

Had the de­vice been a lit­tle bet­ter de­signed it could have killed or in­jured ev­ery­one in the car­riage, which was packed with com­muters, par­ents and chil­dren shortly af­ter 8am.

Ev­i­dence of panic

The stam­pede that fol­lowed the ex­plo­sion, as the train emp­tied into a sin­gle stair­case at the sta­tion, is ev­i­dence of the panic any at­tack on the trans­port sys­tem is likely to cause.The at­tacks at Manch­ester Arena, West­min­ster Bridge, Lon­don Bridge and Fins­bury Park were deadly and un­pre­dictable. But noth­ing is likely to strike fear into Lon­don­ers, who take ter­ror­ism in their stride, like the threat of an at­tack on the Un­der­ground.

Within hours of the Par­sons Green at­tack part of King’s Cross sta­tion was evac­u­ated as po­lice in­ves­ti­gated a sus­pi­cious pack­age.

7/7 at­tacks

The de­sign of the Par­sons Green de­vice was sim­i­lar to those used in four failed at­tacks in Lon­don on July 21st, 2005, two weeks af­ter the 7/7 at­tacks on the Un­der- ground and buses killed 52 peo­ple. The July 21st bombs were packed into buck­ets at three Un­der­ground sta­tions and on a bus, but only their det­o­na­tors ex­ploded.

The re­mains of the de­vice at Par­sons Green could be a rich source of ev­i­dence for the po­lice, who have also been ex­am­in­ing CCTV record­ings from all the sta­tions the train stopped at on its jour­ney. By yes­ter­day evening, how­ever, the sus­pect was still at large, and po­ten­tially ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing out a sec­ond at­tack.

Theresa May, the Bri­tish prime min­is­ter, crit­i­cised as “un­help­ful” a tweet from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, which sug­gested that the sus­pect had al­ready come to the at­ten­tion of UK au­thor­i­ties. It was un­clear last night if Trump’s tweet was based on a US in­tel­li­gence re­port or was noth­ing more than his own un­in­formed spec­u­la­tion.

A num­ber of those al­leged to have been be­hind the other ter­ror­ist at­tacks in the UK this year were al­ready known to in­tel­li­gence agen­cies, which are mon­i­tor­ing 3,000 rad­i­cal Is­lamists and a smaller num­ber of far-right rad­i­cals.

The mayor of Lon­don, Sadiq Khan, yes­ter­day called for more po­lice re­sources, prompt­ing the prime min­is­ter to de­fend her gov­ern­ment’s record in pro­tect­ing po­lice bud­gets. Dur­ing the gen­eral-elec­tion cam­paign ear­lier this year Labour used the ter­ror­ist at­tacks to draw at­ten­tion to the Con­ser­va­tives’ cuts to po­lice num­bers.

Labour’s shadow home sec­re­tary, Diane Ab­bott, avoided politi­cis­ing the Par­sons Green at­tack yes­ter­day, but with the party-con­fer­ence sea­son about to be­gin that re­straint is un­likely to last for long.

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The Par­son’s Green de­vice was sim­i­lar to those used in four failed at­tacks

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