Po­lice ar­rest ter­ror sus­pect

The Southland Times - - WORLD -

BRI­TAIN: Po­lice ar­rested an 18-year-old man in the de­par­ture lounge of the port of Dover yes­ter­day in what they said was a ‘‘very sig­nif­i­cant’’ step in the hunt for who­ever planted a bomb on a Lon­don com­muter train that in­jured 30 peo­ple a day ear­lier.

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May put Bri­tain on the high­est se­cu­rity level of ‘‘crit­i­cal’’ late on Satur­day, mean­ing an­other at­tack may be im­mi­nent, and de­ployed sol­diers and armed po­lice to strate­gic lo­ca­tions such as nu­clear power plants.

Yes­ter­day, of­fi­cers in Dover, a ferry port on the south­east coast from which pas­sen­ger ships sail to France, ar­rested a man and then par­tially evac­u­ated the area, re­cov­er­ing a num­ber of items, the po­lice said with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

Hours later, po­lice raided a house in a com­muter town south­west of Lon­don, and evac­u­ated nearby premises as a pre­cau­tion. Po­lice of­fi­cers in foren­sic suits were seen en­ter­ing a mod­est house in a sub­ur­ban street in Sun­bury, around 20km from Par­sons Green where the bomb ex­ploded.

The po­lice said they were keep­ing an open mind as to whether more than one per­son was in­volved in the Fri­day morn­ing, lo­cal time, at­tack on a packed train in west Lon­don.

‘‘We are still pur­su­ing nu­mer­ous lines of en­quiry, and at great pace,’’ Se­nior Na­tional Co­or­di­na­tor for Counter Ter­ror­ism Polic­ing Neil Basu said.

‘‘We’re open-minded. If there are other peo­ple re­spon­si­ble it’s our job to find them and that is part of the rea­son why we are re­main­ing at ‘crit­i­cal’ at the mo­ment.’’

Of­fi­cials said the at­tack could have been deadly. The home-made bomb shot flames through a packed train car­riage but ap­par­ently failed to det­o­nate fully.

Ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports, the de­vice was at­tached to a timer, un­like other re­cent blasts which have typ­i­cally been sui­cide bombs.

Pic­tures showed a slightly charred white plas­tic bucket with wires com­ing out of the top in a su­per­mar­ket shop­ping bag on the floor of a train car­riage.

‘‘This is a very sig­nif­i­cant ar­rest,’’ said in­te­rior min­is­ter Am­ber Rudd of the 18-year-old. ‘‘The po­lice have made very good progress but the op­er­a­tion is on­go­ing,’’ she said.

‘‘There is no doubt that this was a se­ri­ous IED (im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice) and it was good for­tune that it did so lit­tle dam­age.’’

Is­lamic State claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity.

The group has claimed other at­tacks in Bri­tain this year, in­clud­ing two in Lon­don and one at a con­cert by Amer­i­can singer Ari­ana Grande in Manch­ester, but in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials say there is scant ev­i­dence that it had or­ches­trated them.

Armed po­lice pa­trolled the streets of Lon­don near gov­ern­ment de­part­ments in West­min­ster and guarded Premier League soc­cer grounds host­ing matches, in­clud­ing the na­tional sta­dium at Wem­b­ley.

Cres­sida Dick, Bri­tain’s top po­lice of­fi­cer, sought to re­as­sure the public as she joined col­leagues pa­trolling the en­ter­tain­ment dis­trict on the south bank of the Thames.

‘‘Yes­ter­day we saw a cow­ardly and in­dis­crim­i­nate at­tack which could have re­sulted in many lives be­ing lost,’’ she said. ‘‘Lon­don has not stopped af­ter other ter­ri­ble at­tacks and it will not stop af­ter this one.’’

The last time Bri­tain was put on ‘‘crit­i­cal’’ alert was af­ter a sui­cide bomber killed 22 peo­ple at the Ari­ana Grande con­cert in May.

The threat level re­mained at the high­est set­ting for four days while po­lice raced to es­tab­lish if the man had worked alone or with the help of oth­ers. Prior to that it had not been trig­gered since 2007.

May said the public should not be alarmed by armed of­fi­cers on the streets, a rare sight in Bri­tain. ‘‘This is a pro­por­tion­ate and sen­si­ble step which will pro­vide ex­tra re­as­sur­ance and pro­tec­tion while the in­ves­ti­ga­tion pro­gresses,’’ she said in a tele­vised state­ment.

The bomb struck as pas­sen­gers were trav­el­ling to the cen­tre of the Bri­tish cap­i­tal.

Some suf­fered burns and oth­ers were in­jured in a stampede to es­cape from the sta­tion, one of the above-ground stops on the Un­der­ground net­work.

Health of­fi­cials said none was thought to be in a se­ri­ous con­di­tion. - Reuters

Po­lice of­fi­cers stand be­hind cor­don tape near a prop­erty in Sun­bury-on-Thames that was searched af­ter an ex­plo­sion on a Lon­don Un­der­ground train.

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