Threat level raised af­ter sub­way bomb­ing

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Jill Law­less and Gre­gory Katz

A home­made bomb planted in a rush­hour sub­way car ex­ploded in Lon­don on Fri­day, in­jur­ing 29 peo­ple and prompt­ing au­thor­i­ties to raise Bri­tain’s ter­ror­ism threat level to “crit­i­cal,” mean­ing an­other at­tack may be im­mi­nent.

The early morn­ing blast sparked a huge man­hunt for the per­pe­tra­tors of what po­lice said was the fourth ter­ror­ist at­tack in the Bri­tish cap­i­tal this year.

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, act­ing on the rec­om­men­da­tion of the Joint Ter­ror­ism Anal­y­sis Cen­ter, raised the coun­try’s threat level from “se­vere” to “crit­i­cal” — its high­est pos­si­ble level. May said mil­i­tary troops would aug­ment the po­lice pres­ence in a “pro­por­tion­ate and sen­si­ble step.”

Ear­lier, May said the de­vice had been “in­tended to cause sig­nif­i­cant harm.”

Still, to the re­lief of au­thor­i­ties and Lon­don­ers, ex­perts said the bomb — hid­den in a plas­tic bucket in­side a su­per­mar­ket freezer bag — only par­tially ex­ploded, spar­ing the city much worse car­nage.

“I would say this was a failed high-ex­plo­sive de­vice,” Chris Hunter, a for­mer Bri­tish army bomb ex­pert, said of the blast, which caused no se­ri­ous in­juries.

The Is­lamic State group claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, which it said was car­ried out by an af­fil­i­ated unit.

The bomb went off around 8:20 a.m. as the train, car­ry­ing com­muters from the sub­urbs — in­clud­ing many school chil­dren — was at Par­sons Green sta­tion in the south­west of the city.

Wit­ness Chris Wild­ish told Sky News that he saw “out of the cor­ner of my eye, a mas­sive flash of flames that went up the side of the train,” fol­lowed by “an acrid chem­i­cal smell.”

Com­muter Lau­ren Hub­bard said she was on the train when she heard a loud bang.

“I looked around and this wall of fire was just com­ing to­ward us,” Hub­bard said. She said her in­stinct was “just run,” and she fled the above-ground sta­tion with her boyfriend.

Chaos en­sued as hun­dreds of peo­ple, some of them suf­fer­ing burns, poured from the train, which can hold up to 800 peo­ple.

“I ended up squashed on the stair­case. Peo­ple were fall­ing over, peo­ple faint­ing, cry­ing. There were lit­tle kids cling­ing onto the back of me,” said an­other com­muter, Ryan Bar­nett.

Pas­sen­ger Luke Walm­s­ley said it was “like ev­ery man for him­self to get down the stairs.”

“Peo­ple were just push­ing,” he added. “There were nan­nies or mums ask­ing where their chil­dren were.”

Po­lice and health of­fi­cials said 29 peo­ple were treated in Lon­don hos­pi­tals, most of them for flash burns. None of the in­juries were se­ri­ous or life-threat­en­ing, the emer­gency ser­vices said.

Trains were sus­pended along a stretch of the Un­der­ground’s District Line, and sev­eral homes were evac­u­ated as po­lice set up a 150-foot cor­don around the scene while they se­cured the de­vice and launched a search for those who planted it.

The Metropoli­tan Po­lice said hun­dreds of de­tec­tives, along with agents of the do­mes­tic spy agency MI5, were look­ing at sur­veil­lance cam­era footage, car­ry­ing out foren­sic work and speak­ing to wit­nesses.

POOL (VIA AP)

In this aerial im­age made from video, po­lice of­fi­cers work at the Par­sons Green Un­der­ground Sta­tion af­ter an ex­plo­sion in Lon­don Fri­day, Sept. 15, 2017. A re­ported ex­plo­sion at a train sta­tion sent com­muters stam­ped­ing in panic, in­jur­ing sev­eral peo­ple at the height of Lon­don’s morn­ing rush hour, and po­lice said they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing it as a ter­ror­ist at­tack.

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