Bri­tons ar­rest sus­pect in blast, scour na­tion

Ter­ror alert at ‘crit­i­cal’ after sub­way at­tack

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LONDON — Bri­tish po­lice made an ap­par­ent break­through Satur­day in a race-against-time sub­way bomb­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion with what they called a “sig­nif­i­cant ar­rest” as the coun­try re­mained on a “crit­i­cal” alert, mean­ing that an­other at­tack is con­sid­ered im­mi­nent.

Po­lice ar­rested an 18-yearold man in the port of Dover — the main ferry link to France — and then be­gan a wide­spread armed search in the south­west­ern London sub­urb of Sun­bury in which they evac­u­ated res­i­dents, es­tab­lished a cor­don and im­posed a no-fly zone over the prop­erty be­ing searched.

Po­lice would not say whether they had found the man be­lieved to have planted the bomb that par­tially ex­ploded on a crowded London sub­way train Fri­day morn­ing, but Home Sec­re­tary Am­ber Rudd and oth­ers said the ar­rest was of ma­jor im­por­tance.

“We have made a sig­nif­i­cant ar­rest in our in­ves­ti­ga­tion this morn­ing,” Deputy As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Neil Basu, the top coun­tert­er­ror­ism of­fi­cial at the Metropoli­tan Po­lice in London, said in a state­ment.

“Al­though we are pleased with the progress made, this in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues and the threat level re­mains at crit­i­cal,” the state­ment said. The man in cus­tody wasn’t iden­ti­fied by po­lice.

The man is be­ing held un­der the Ter­ror­ism Act and has been taken to London for ques­tion­ing. His iden­tity is a closely guarded se­cret, and po­lice have im­plored the media not to spec­u­late while the in­quiry un­folds. Au­thor­i­ties would not say whether they be­lieved the man was try­ing to flee to France on a Dover ferry.

The Metropoli­tan Po­lice said a ma­jor hunt was still un­der­way Satur­day for any other sus­pects con­nected to the sub­way bomb­ing. Po­lice in Kent warned res­i­dents in a state­ment on Twit­ter to ex­pect more of­fi­cers and “mil­i­tary per­son­nel” on the streets.

Hun­dreds of sol­diers pa­trolled pub­lic ar­eas Satur­day, free­ing up po­lice for the bomb­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Rudd said the coun­try’s ter­ror threat level — which was raised Fri­day night to the high­est pos­si­ble level — will stay there un­til the in­de­pen­dent Joint Ter­ror­ism Anal­y­sis Cen­ter is con­vinced that the threat of im­mi­nent at­tack has eased.

The home­made bomb on the rush-hour train only par­tially det­o­nated. Rudd said the blast could have been much worse. There were fears Satur­day that the sus­pect in cus­tody had ac­com­plices who may have sim­i­lar de­vices. Ex­perts said the bomb could have caused many fa­tal­i­ties if it had func­tioned prop­erly. Three of the 29 people in­jured in the blast re­mained hos­pi­tal­ized Satur­day.

Ben Wal­lace, the se­cu­rity min­is­ter, told the BBC’s To­day ra­dio pro­gram that the home­made bomb con­tained tri­ace­tone triper­ox­ide, an ex­plo­sive sim­i­lar to the one used in the Manch­ester Arena bomb­ing in May.

Rudd, frus­trated by the string of ter­ror­ist at­tacks in re­cent months, said of­fi­cials will have to work harder to make bomb com­po­nents more dif­fi­cult to ob­tain.

“[We must] make sure to take all steps that we can to en­sure the sort of ma­te­ri­als that this man was able to col­lect” are harder to find, she said.

The fast-mov­ing in­quiry shifted to the pleas­ant town of Sun­bury, where po­lice or­dered neigh­bors to evac­u­ate im­me­di­ately.

Sun­bury is 10 miles west of Par­sons Green, where the ex­plo­sion oc­curred. Res­i­dents reached by phone Satur­day said that shortly be­fore 2 p.m., po­lice of­fi­cers ar­rived in the res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hood around Cavendish Road and Bur­goyne Road.

After po­lice sealed off the sur­round­ing streets, some res­i­dents were of­fered trans­porta­tion to a lo­cal rugby club, and oth­ers were al­lowed to go to rel­a­tives’ homes nearby.

Louise Mar­getts, 54, said she was re­turn­ing from the su­per­mar­ket to her home when she saw four po­lice ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing a po­lice ca­nine unit, speed­ing up the road.

“The of­fi­cers at the back jumped out and started cor­don­ing off the road,” she said. “They were run­ning, and said, ‘Turn around now.’”

Mar­getts, a teacher, man­aged to get home, but po­lice ar­rived at her door soon after­ward.

“They didn’t re­ally tell us any­thing,” she said. “They knocked, well, ham­mered, on the door and said: ‘Out now. We can’t say why.’”

Mo­j­gan Ja­mali, who lives near the house be­ing searched, said po­lice gave her “one minute” to pack.

“I was in my house with my chil­dren, and there was a knock at the door from the po­lice. They told me to leave. They said ‘You have one minute to get out of the house and get away,’” she said. “I just got out. I got my three chil­dren, and we left the house and the street.”

Po­lice did not re­veal de­tails about the search. The Is­lamic State group has claimed that one of its units planted the sub­way bomb.

Barry Sut­ton, 53, said he saw sev­eral Surrey po­lice ve­hi­cles on the edge of the cor­doned area.

“The po­lice are go­ing house to house be­hind the tape, evac­u­at­ing people,” he said by phone. “There was no sense of panic, but there were a lot of po­lice; it was a proper op­er­a­tion.”

Sun­bury is close to London’s out­er­most bor­oughs and is served by com­muter trains, but is not on the London Un­der­ground net­work.

Se­cu­rity at sea­ports and air­ports was in­creased after the at­tack. Of­fi­cials have hinted that they sus­pect more than one per­son was in­volved in the blast, but they haven’t re­leased de­tails.

Po­lice are scour­ing closed-cir­cuit TV im­ages and have ex­ten­sively stud­ied the re­mains of the par­tially det­o­nated ex­plo­sive de­vice, which was con­tained in a bucket with wires hang­ing out of it and con­cealed in a plas­tic shop­ping bag.

The sub­way train at the Par­sons Green sta­tion in south­west London had video cam­eras in each car, and the London Un­der­ground net­work has thou­sands of cam­eras at the en­trances to sta­tions and along its labyrinth of sub­ter­ranean and above­ground pas­sage­ways.

The Par­sons Green sta­tion re­opened Satur­day, restor­ing some nor­malcy to London’s trans­porta­tion net­work after a day of dis­rup­tion. There was no sign of panic among Lon­don­ers and the week­end life of the mul­ti­cul­tural city con­tin­ued un­de­terred.

Pre­mier League soccer games and London Fash­ion Week pro­ceeded as usual, with an in­creased se­cu­rity pres­ence, al­though an­i­mal-rights ac­tivists did ham­per people try­ing to en­ter the Burberry fash­ion show Satur­day night in central London.

Fri­day’s det­o­na­tion was the first to hit mass tran­sit in London since the deadly bomb­ings of 2005 that killed 52 people. While Lon­don­ers ex­pressed re­lief that no one was killed in Fri­day’s blast, the episode re­newed fears about the threat of ter­ror.

“This has be­come the new nor­mal,” said Harry Walker, a Par­sons Green res­i­dent. “We get at­tacked, and then we carry on, wait­ing in an­tic­i­pa­tion for the next one.”

“The fact that they struck Par­sons Green,” he added, “which is way out from the cen­ter, is them giv­ing a very clear mes­sage: ‘We can do it any­where at any time.’”

Bri­tain has en­dured four other at­tacks this year, which have killed a to­tal of 36 people. The other at­tack­ers in London — near Par­lia­ment, on London Bridge and near a mosque in Fins­bury Park in north London — used ve­hi­cles and knives. Most of the at­tacks have been claimed or praised by the Is­lamic State.

In ad­di­tion, a sui­cide bomber struck a packed con­cert hall in Manch­ester in north­ern Eng­land, killing 22 people. That at­tack in May also briefly caused the na­tion’s threat level to be set at “crit­i­cal.”

AP/VIC­TO­RIA JONES

Po­lice and foren­sic of­fi­cers work Satur­day at a prop­erty in south­west London as they in­ves­ti­gate Fri­day’s sub­way bomb­ing. A sus­pect in the bomb­ing was ar­rested Satur­day.

AP/TIM IRELAND

A man walks Satur­day into the Par­sons Green sub­way sta­tion, which re­opened after Fri­day’s ter­ror­ist at­tack.

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