22 hurt in London train bomb blast

Hunt for ter­ror­ist who planted de­vice

The Independent on Saturday - - NEWS/WORLD -

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

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