Trump angers Bri­tain after London at­tack

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON/LONDON: U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s sug­ges­tion that London po­lice could have done more to pre­vent a home­made bomb ex­plo­sion drew speedy push­back Fri­day from Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May.

The bomb ex­ploded on a packed train dur­ing morn­ing rush hour Fri­day, leav­ing 29 peo­ple wounded but no one with life-threat­en­ing in­juries. Daesh (ISIS) claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack in a state­ment pub­lished by its Amaq news agency.

In a tele­vised state­ment fol­low­ing the ex­plo­sion, May said that the U.K. has raised its na­tional se­cu­rity threat level from se­vere to crit­i­cal, mean­ing an at­tack is ex­pected.

The prime min­is­ter added that armed po­lice and sol­diers will be seen on the streets in the com­ing days.

In a se­ries of early-morn­ing tweets, Trump called the ex­plo­sion an­other at­tack “by a loser ter­ror­ist.” He also of­fered im­plied crit­i­cism of law en­force­ment, say­ing “th­ese are sick and de­mented peo­ple who were in the sights of Scot­land Yard. Must be proac­tive!”

That on­line broad­side brought a terse pub­lic re­sponse from May, who warned the U.S. pres­i­dent and oth­ers not to spec­u­late.

“I never think it’s help­ful for any­body to spec­u­late on what is an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” May told jour­nal­ists in London.

Trump’s lat­est com­ments were de­scribed as “un­help­ful” by London’s Metropoli­tan Po­lice, as well as by Nick Ti­mothy, May’s for­mer chief of staff. “True or not – and I’m sure he doesn’t know – this is so un­help­ful from leader of our ally and in­tel­li­gence partner,” Ti­mothy wrote on Twit­ter.

After his tweets, and with ties ap­par­ently un­der strain, Trump spoke with May to of­fer his sym­pa­thies and “pledged to con­tinue close col­lab­o­ra­tion with the United King­dom to stop at­tacks world­wide tar­get­ing in­no­cent civil­ians and to com­bat ex­trem­ism,” the White House said in a brief state­ment. It did not say if the two dis­cussed Trump’s tweet.

The bomb – hid­den in a plas­tic bucket in­side a su­per­mar­ket freezer bag – only par­tially ex­ploded, spar­ing the city much worse car­nage.

“I would say this was a failed high-explosive de­vice,” Chris Hunter, a for­mer Bri­tish army bomb ex­pert, said of the blast.

The bomb went off around 8:20 a.m. as the train, car­ry­ing com­muters from the sub­urbs – in­clud­ing many school­child­ren – was at Parsons Green sta­tion in the south­west of the city.

Wit­ness Chris Wild­ish told Sky News that he saw “out of the cor­ner of my eye, a mas­sive flash of flames that went up the side of the train ,” fol­lowed by“an acrid chem­i­cal smell .”

Chaos en­sued as hun­dreds of peo­ple, some of them suf­fer­ing burns, poured from the train, which can hold up to 800 peo­ple.

“I ended up squashed on the stair­case. Peo­ple were fall­ing over, peo­ple faint­ing, cry­ing. There were lit­tle kids cling­ing onto the back of me,” said an­other com­muter, Ryan Bar­nett.

Trains were sus­pended along a stretch of the Un­der­ground’s District Line, and sev­eral homes were evac­u­ated as po­lice set up a 50-meter cor­don around the scene while they se­cured the de­vice and launched a search for those who planted it.

The Metropoli­tan Po­lice said hun­dreds of de­tec­tives, along with agents of the do­mes­tic spy agency MI5, were look­ing at sur­veil­lance cam­era footage, car­ry­ing out foren­sic work and speak­ing to wit­nesses.

The bomb only par­tially ex­ploded, in­jur­ing 29.

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