‘Significant arrest’ in London train attack
18-year-old held, 1,000 troops deployed to guard key sites
Tube attack — claimed by Daesh — led to terror threat level being raised to critical — meaning another attack could be imminent.
British police made a “significant” arrest yesterday in the manhunt for suspects a day after the London subway was hit by a partially exploded bomb and launched a heavily armed search of a home southwest of London.
The fast-moving inquiry into the subway blast that wounded 30 people has shifted to Sunbury, on the outskirts of the British capital, where neighbours were evacuated amid the police operation as a precaution.
The police search came after the arrest of an 18-yearold who is being held under the Terrorism Act. He was arrested by Kent police in the port of Dover on the English Channel. “This arrest will lead to more activity from our officers,” said a statement. Anti-terrorism chief Mark Rowley said on Friday that officers were “chasing down suspects”.
Dover is a major ferry port for travel between Britain and France — and it was not clear if the suspect was trying to board a ferry for France when he was taken into custody.
Prime Minister Theresa May announced that troops — 1,000 were deployed — would take on responsibility for guarding key sites, including nuclear facilities, to free up police.
British police arrested an 18-year-old man in the southern port of Dover yesterday in a “significant” development in the hunt for the people behind a London commuter train bombing that injured 30 people a day earlier.
Prime Minister Theresa May put Britain on the highest security level of “critical” late on Friday, meaning an attack may be imminent, and soldiers and armed police deployed to secure strategic sites and hunt down the perpetrators.
The home-made bomb shot flames through a packed commuter train during the Friday morning rush hour in west London but apparently failed to detonate fully.
“We have made a significant arrest in our investigation this morning,” said Neil Basu, Senior National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing.
“Although we are pleased with the progress made, this investigation continues and the threat level remains at critical.” The arrest was made in the port area of Dover, where passenger ferries sail to France.
The blast on the London Tube train at the Parsons Green underground station was the fifth major terrorism attack in Britain this year and was claimed by Daesh.
Britain deployed hundreds of soldiers at strategic sites such as nuclear power plants and Ministry of Defence sites on Saturday to free up armed police to help in the hunt for those behind the bombing. The last time Britain was put on “critical” alert was after a man killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester in May. Before that it had not been triggered since 2007.
“For this period, military personnel will replace police officers on guard duties at certain protected sites,” May said in a televised statement.
“The public will see more armed police on the transport network and on our streets providing extra protection. This is a proportionate and sensible step which will provide extra reassurance and protection while the investigation progresses.”
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.
Pictures taken at the scene 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.
“I was on the second carriage from the back. I just heard a kind of ‘whoosh’. I looked up and saw the whole carriage engulfed in flames making its way towards me,” Ola Fayankinnu, who was on the train, told Reuters.
“There were phones, hats, bags all over the place and when I looked back I saw a bag with flames.” Daesh has claimed other attacks in Britain this year, including two in London and at the pop concert in Manchester.
It was not immediately possible to verify the claim about Parsons Green, for which Daesh’s news agency Amaq offered no evidence.
Western intelligence officials have questioned similar claims in the past, saying that while Daesh’s ideology may have inspired some attackers, there is scant evidence that it has orchestrated attacks.
We have made a significant arrest in our investigation this morning. Although we are pleased with the progress made, this investigation continues and the threat level remains at critical.” Neil Basu | Senior National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing
Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, chats with people as she walks along the Southbank in London, a day after the blast in the Tube train.
Commuters walk outside Parsons Green station, which was reopened in the early hours yesterday.