Find the ‘Mother of Satan’ bomber
29 injured in rush-hour fireball on packed London train carriage
DETECTIVES were racing against time last night to hunt down an Isis maniac who tried to blow up a rush hour London Tube train with a bomb dubbed the “Mother of Satan”.
The explosive, which was placed in a bucket inside a
shopping bag sent a “wall of fire” through the District Line train carriage, leaving 29 people injured.
The crude device was believed to have been made with the explosive TATP.
The UK’s terror threat was raised to critical last night, meaning another attack may be imminent.
One expert said the bomb, which burst into flames at Parsons Green station in south-west London, was several times the size of the Manchester Arena device that killed 22 people in May.
Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, ex-assistant director of intelligence surveillance at the Ministry of Defence, said: “It looks like a pretty unsophisticated device and I think we have been pretty fortunate as it doesn’t seem to have detonated.”
He added: “There was quite a big bucket, it looks like it could contain 20 litres. That can carry a lot of explosives. That size of device could have been devastating.”
Hundreds of police officers joined forces with MI5 agents in the desperate hunt for the terrorist – or terror cell – behind the blast.
And there were fears of another bomb or knife rampage as the culprits remained at large.
The bomb was in a white builder’s bucket inside a Lidl foil-lined and sealable freezer bag, which may have been designed to keep the highly unstable bomb ingredients cool.
The mixture can ignite if it gets too warm and the heat inside the packed carriage may have caused that to happen.
It went off as the train pulled into Parsons Green at 8.20am.
Terrified passengers were seen covered in blood with scorched heads, legs, faces and hair as they “ran for their lives” trying to escape the horror.
Armed police, paramedics and 50 firefighters were reportedly at the scene within five minutes.
Terror expert Will Geddes believes the bomb could have been primed to go off at a different station.
The train is believed to have been heading to Upminster in Essex or Tower Hill, east London.
This would have taken it through busy stations in Central London such as Victoria and Westminster.
Geddes said: “I think it was a premature detonation more than anything else. This could have been a lot worse. They are always going to aim for maximum impact.” Early reports claimed the suspect had been seen on CCTV but Scotland Yard refused to comment on claims the bomber had already been identified. The suspect is thought to have got on the Tube with the device at some point between Wimbledon and Parsons Green. No image of the suspect was released, suggesting police may know who he or she is. Mayor Sadiq Khan urged Londoners to show vigilance, saying: “There is a manhunt under way as we speak.” Scotland Yard said detectives are making “fast-time” inquiries to establish who was responsible,
adding that there had been no arrests. Mark Rowley, the country’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, said “many urgent inquiries” were ongoing.
Asked whether the terrorist was on the train at the time the bomb ignited, he said: “It’s very much a live investigation and we are following down the lines of inquiry.”
Last night, Theresa May raised the threat level to “critical”, meaning the military will be put on the streets to support the police.
It is only the fourth time Britain has been put on the highest alert level in the past 11 years.
May said: “The public will see more armed police on the transport network and on our streets providing extra protection and this is a proportionate and sensible step which will provide extra reassurance and protection while the investigation progresses. During this period, the public should go about their business in a normal way and as usual be vigilant and cooperate with the police.
“I said earlier that terrorism is a great challenge of our times but by standing together, we will defeat it.”
It was the sixth terror attack so far in the UK this year and the only one in which nobody has died. There were 36 deaths in the previous atrocities.
Police say they have stopped six other significant plots during the same period.
Investigators were last night combing through thousands of hours of CCTV footage from the London Underground and images taken by witnesses in efforts to trace the bomber. Using image recognition software, they were comparing pictures of the suspect with those of more than 3500 extremists on the MI5 terror watch list. Forensic officers were examining the device in an attempt to match any potential DNA and fingerprints with known suspects. Rowley added: “We are making excellent progress at the moment as we pursue our lines of enquiry to identify, to locate and to arrest those responsible. “This is a very complex investigation which is continuing at speed with the full weight of London’s counter terrorism policing resources assisted by colleagues from around the country and by our intelligence agency partners.
“We have hundreds of police officers trawling though CCTV footage, detectives have spoken to witnesses and we have taken a large number of calls to the hotline from members of the public.
“Members of the public have sent in 77 images and videos they have taken of the scene which they have sent in to our appeal website and these are being assessed for evidential value.”
He also said the IED had been removed and taken away “for examination by forensic scientists” and added up to 1000 police officers had been freed up to provide extra safety checks and reassurance.
NHS England said 21 victims were still being treated in hospital last night.
EXPLOSIVE The bucket bomb
NIGHTMARE A bandaged passenger and other wounded and shocked victims, right. Above, 999 crews at scene and man’s burnt head, above right
HOMEMADE AND HELLISH The crude device was in white bucket and Lidl bag AFTERMATH Bucket and debris can be seen on carriage ON GUARD Officer on the train targeted by terrorist FORCE Armed officers in gas masks, top, and members of specialist terror response team
INQUIRY The Met’s Mark