Manhunt after Underground bomb attack
Attack: Hospitals treat 29 people after fireball rips through carriage
A manhunt has been launched after a bomb was detonated in a terror attack on a packed London Underground train. Witnesses described scenes of terror and panic as the blast sent a “fireball” and a “wall of flame” through a District line service at Parsons Green, west London.
“I heard a boom and there were flames all around”
Britain is on critical terror alert with military troops set to bolster police forces in the hunt for the Parsons Green bomber.
Prime Minister Theresa May raised the threat level to the highest possible rating, meaning another attack is expected imminently.
A manhunt is under way after the improvised explosive device sent a fireball through a packed London Underground train carriage in south-west London, during yesterday morning’s rush hour.
The Islamic State (IS) terror group claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq news agency, according to the US-based Site Intelligence.
Rita Katz, the director of Site, said IS claimed the bombing was the work of a “detachment” rather than simply a “soldier”, which she said implied it was a co-ordinated attack.
Last night Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the country’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, said that bringing in the military would mean 1,000 extra police officers would be on the streets over the weekend, in London and elsewhere.
He added that the police investigation was making “excellent progress” and urged members of the public to “act on their instinct” if they saw anything concerning, and “not to hesitate” to call.
A total of 29 patients needed hospital treatment, with a number of those hurt suffering from burns.
As Britain faced up to another terrorist incident, following four attacks already this year, images emerged on social media appearing to show wires protruding from a flaming bucket inside a plastic Lidl carrier bag on the floor of a carriage. Reports suggested the device had a timer.
Scotland Yard and the prime minister rebuked US president Donald Trump over his claim the Parsons Green Tube bomber was “in the sights” of Scotland Yard.
Police suspect the explosion was sparked when an improvised explosive device was detonated, and launched a huge counterterrorism investigation alongside MI5.
The device was being forensically examined while detectives scoured CCTV and examined witness statements for potential leads. Police were called at 8.20am following reports of a fire on the train as it pulled in to the station.
Emergency services including armed police went to the scene and cordoned off the station.
Sylvain Pennec, a software developer from Southfields, near Wimbledon, was about 10 metres from the source of the explosion when fire filled the carriage.
“I heard a boom and when I looked there were flames all around,” he said.
“People started to run but we were lucky to be stopping at Parsons Green as the door started to open.”
He described the scene of panic as commuters struggled to escape the carriage, “collapsing and pushing” each other.
He stayed to take a closer look at what he believed was the source of the blast. “It looked like a bucket of mayonnaise,” he said.
Chris Wildish, who was on the train, said he saw a “device” in the last carriage. He said: “Flames were still coming out of it when I saw it and had a lot of wires hanging out of it.”
Asked if it was clear whether the person responsible was on the train at the time, Mr Rowley said: “It’s very much a live investigation and we are following down the lines of inquiry.”
The Press and Journal’s north news editor Sarah Bruce was in west London and witnessed the response of the emergency services.
“I saw helicopters and police cars – I thought there had been a robbery because police were outside a bank at Fulham Broadway, but then someone told me what had happened.”
Authorities have foiled 19 plots since mid-2013.
RESPONSE: Firefighters arrive at Parsons Green station after the explosion on the London Underground during rush hour yesterday