UK troops de­ployed af­ter train blast


The Nation - - WORLD -

Bri­tain raised its threat level to max­i­mum yes­ter­day and an­nounced troops would be de­ployed to key sites af­ter a bomb det­o­nated on a packed Lon­don Un­der­ground train, in­jur­ing at least 29 peo­ple in an at­tack claimed by the Is­lamic State group.

The ex­plo­sion – Bri­tain’s fifth ter­ror at­tack in six months – sparked a “wall of fire” that left pas­sen­gers with burns and caused a stam­pede of pan­ick­ing peo­ple in which some were tram­pled.

Twelve hours af­ter the blast at Par­sons Green sta­tion in south­west Lon­don, Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May an­nounced the na­tional threat level would be raised to “crit­i­cal”, mean­ing an­other at­tack may be im­mi­nent.

She said mil­i­tary per­son­nel would take over guard duty at cer­tain closed “pro­tected sites”, free­ing up 1,000 po­lice of­fi­cers to be de­ployed on the trans­port net­work and on streets across Bri­tain.

The coun­try was last on crit­i­cal alert af­ter the bomb­ing at a con­cert in Manch­ester in May, which was also claimed by the IS group.

In a state­ment on Fri­day, IS said a “de­tach­ment” had car­ried out yes­ter­day’s at­tack in Lon­don.

No one has yet been ar­rested over the bomb­ing, but anti- ter­ror­ism po­lice chief Mark Row­ley said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was mak­ing “re­ally good progress”.

“We’re chas­ing down sus­pects,” he told re­porters.

“Some­body has planted this im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice on the Tube. We have to be open-minded at this stage about him and po­ten­tial as­so­ciates.”

Row­ley ear­lier said most of the in­juries were due to “flash burns”, while oth­ers were wounded as pas­sen­gers ran out of the sta­tion in panic.

A lo­cal res­i­dent, Char­lie Craven, who was on his way to the sta­tion at the time of the at­tack, said he heard a “mas­sive bang”.

“I saw an orange sort of fire­ball en­com­pass­ing the whole Tube com­ing to­wards you,” he said.

Wit­ness Lau­ren Hub­bard de­scribed it as “a wall of fire”.

Twit­ter user @Rrigs posted pic­tures of a white bucket smoul­der­ing on the train and de­scribed how a “fire­ball flew down car­riage and we just jumped out open door”.

The bucket, which was in­side a frozen food bag from the bud­get su­per­mar­ket chain Lidl, looked like the type used by builders and there ap­peared to be ca­bles com­ing out of it.

US Pres­i­dent Donald Trump said that “loser ter­ror­ists” were be­hind the at­tack, adding that they were al­ready “in the sights” of Bri­tish po­lice.

Lon­don’s Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice dis­missed the tweet as “un­help­ful spec­u­la­tion”, while May also re­buked him.

“I never think it’s help­ful for any­body to spec­u­late on what is an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” she said, speak­ing af­ter an emer­gency meet­ing of se­nior min­is­ters.

May said the de­vice was “clearly in­tended to cause sig­nif­i­cant harm,” con­demn­ing it as a “cow­ardly at­tack”.

Speak­ing on Fri­day evening, Row­ley said the rem­nants of the bomb were be­ing ex­am­ined by foren­sic sci­en­tists.

Bri­tish me­dia re­ported that it had timer but failed to det­o­nate fully.

Otso Iho, a se­nior an­a­lyst at Jane’s Ter­ror­ism and In­sur­gency Cen­tre, said the at­tack showed a “con­tin­ued high in­tent but low ca­pa­bil­ity” in the ter­ror­ism threat in Bri­tain.

Hans Michels, a pro­fes­sor of chem­i­cal engi­neer­ing at Im­pe­rial Col­lege, said the flash flame “sug­gests that the ex­plo­sion was only partly suc­cess­ful”.

“Much of the bucket still seems to be in­tact and there ap­pear to be no vic­tims with lethal im­pact wounds,” he said.

The Lon­don Am­bu­lance Ser­vice said none of the 29 vic­tims treated in hospi­tal were in a se­ri­ous life-threat­en­ing con­di­tion, and eight have since been re­leased.

Louis Hather, 21, had been trav­el­ling to work and was three car­riages down from where the ex­plo­sion took place.

“I could smell the burn­ing. Like when you burn plas­tic,” he told AFP.

He was tram­pled on as pas­sen­gers stam­peded out of the sta­tion and his leg was badly cut and bruised.

Sally Fauld­ing, a 51- year- old teacher, said: “Peo­ple were fall­ing over each other.”

Richard Aylmer-Hall, 52, told the Press As­so­ci­a­tion: “There was panic, lots of peo­ple shout­ing, scream­ing, lots of scream­ing.”

The area around Par­sons Green sta­tion – a quiet and wealthy res­i­den­tial district, filled with chic cafes – was evac­u­ated for most of the day.

Lo­cal res­i­dents and busi­nesses ral­lied to­gether to of­fer tea, phone charg­ing points, and the use of their toi­lets to peo­ple un­able to get home.

Four pre­vi­ous at­tacks in Lon­don and Manch­ester this year claimed the lives of 35 peo­ple.

Three of those at­tacks in­volved a ve­hi­cle plough­ing into pedes­tri­ans.

The other at­tack was a bomb­ing in May at a pop con­cert by US star Ari­ana Grande in Manch­ester which killed 22 peo­ple, in­clud­ing sev­eral chil­dren.

An armed po­lice of­fi­cer and three mil­i­tary per­sonel stand guard out­side the Horse Guards Pa­rade in central Lon­don yes­ter­day. Bri­tish po­lice ar­rested an 18-year-old man in con­nec­tion with their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the bomb­ing of a packed Lon­don Un­der­ground train that in­jured 30 peo­ple.

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