22 hurt in London train bomb blast
Hunt for terrorist who planted device
AHOME-MADE bomb exploded on a packed London subway train during rush hour yesterday, leaving 22 people injured, police and health officials said. None of the injured is thought to be seriously hurt.
Police say the explosion was a terrorist attack, the fifth in Britain this year.
Police were alerted to an incident at 8.20am after commuters reported a noise and a flash aboard the District Line train at Parsons Green station. Chaos ensued as hundreds of people rushed to get away.
“I ended up squashed on the staircase; people were falling over, people fainting, crying, there were little kids clinging on to the back of me,” Ryan Barnett, 25, said of the “absolute chaos” as people tried to leave the station.
Mark Rowley, head of counterterrorism for the Metropolitan Police, said: “This was a detonation of an improvised explosive device.”
He said 18 people had been injured, most with “flash burns”. Health officials later said four others took themselves to hospital.
Rowley said intelligence service MI5 was assisting with the investigation, led by the police counterterrorism unit.
He gave no information about potential suspects, saying: “It’s very much a live investigation.” Forensic officers combed the scene for clues and detectives examined surveillance camera footage in an attempt to get a glimpse at who planted the bomb.
US President Donald Trump tweeted it was another attack “by a loser terrorist”, adding “these are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard”.
London police declined to comment on Trump’s suggestion it knew about the attacker.
Photos taken inside the train show a white plastic bucket in a shopping bag. Flames and what appear to be wires emerge from the top.
“There was, out of the corner of my eye, a massive flash of flames that went up the side of the train,” witness Chris Wildish said, then “an acrid chemical smell”.
He said many of those on board were schoolchildren, who were knocked around as the crowd surged away from the fireball.
Another commuter, Richard Aylmer-Hall, said he saw several people injured, apparently trampled as they fled.
Aerial footage showed commuters from other subway trains being evacuated.
Subway services were suspended along the line.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the city “utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life”.
London has been targeted by attackers several times this year, with deadly vehicle attacks near Parliament, on London Bridge and near a mosque in Finsbury Park. A May 22 suicide bomb attack at Manchester Arena killed 22 people.
The London Underground itself has been targeted several times in the past, notably in July 2005, when suicide bombers blew themselves up on three trains and a bus, killing 52 people and themselves. Four bombers tried a similar attack two weeks later, but their devices failed to fully explode.
Last year, Damon Smith, a student with an interest in weapons and Islamic extremism, left a knapsack filled with explosives and ball bearings on a London subway train. It failed to explode.
In its recent Inspire magazine, al-Qaeda urged supporters to target trains.
Separately, French counterterrorism authorities were investigating an attempted knife attack on a soldier patrolling a large Paris subway interchange yesterday.
The soldier was with a special military force assigned to protect prominent sites after extremist attacks. The attacker was quickly arrested and no one was hurt. – ANA-AP