Man, 18, held in Lon­don sub­way blast

Se­cu­rity forces carry out pa­trols as Bri­tain con­tin­ues its in­quiry into ter­ror­ist at­tack.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - BY ERIK KIRSCHBAUM Kirschbaum is a spe­cial correspondent.

BER­LIN — Po­lice in Bri­tain said they had ar­rested an 18-year-old man Satur­day in the port city of Dover who was sus­pected of in­volve­ment in Fri­day’s ter­ror­ist at­tack on a Lon­don sub­way train. A bomb par­tially ex­ploded, set­ting a crowded train car on fire and in­jur­ing 29 peo­ple.

The ap­par­ent break­through in the fast-mov­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion came af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May put the coun­try on high alert and poised for fur­ther at­tacks. The mil­i­tant group Is­lamic State has claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack — the fifth to strike Bri­tain this year — which in­volved a crude home­made de­vice wrapped in a plas­tic shop­ping bag that burst into flames. The ex­plo­sion sparked panic at the Par­sons Green rail sta­tion in West Lon­don dur­ing the morn­ing rush hour. None of the in­juries were be­lieved to be life-threat­en­ing.

“We have made a sig­nif­i­cant ar­rest in our in­ves­ti­ga­tion this morn­ing,” Neil Basu, a top counter-ter­ror­ism of­fi­cial at Lon­don’s Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice, said in a state­ment, adding that the teenager was ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of be­ing in­volved in an act of ter­ror­ism. “Al­though we are pleased with the progress made, this in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues and the threat level re­mains crit­i­cal.”

The bomb, which was placed in a bucket, went off around 8:20 a.m. Fri­day aboard the Dis­trict Line train that was car­ry­ing com­muters, in­clud­ing many school­child­ren from the sub­urbs. It shot flames through the train car but ap­par­ently failed to det­o­nate fully, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal me­dia re­ports that also noted it was at­tached to a timer. Pic­tures on so­cial me­dia of the charred white plas­tic bucket showed wires pro­trud­ing from the top. The de­vice was sim­i­lar to a bomb used in a May sui­cide at­tack in Manch­ester that killed 22 peo­ple, author­i­ties said.

Heav­ily armed po­lice and sol­diers were out in force pa­trolling the streets of Lon­don on Satur­day and se­cu­rity was tight at the coun­try’s packed soc­cer sta­di­ums, con­sid­ered po­ten­tial tar­gets as the homes of the na­tion’s most pop­u­lar sport. But there were no signs of panic among Lon­don­ers as the na­tion once again ap­peared de­ter­mined to live up to the wartime slo­gan: Keep calm and carry on.

Po­lice ar­rested the sus­pect at 7:50 a.m. Satur­day in Dover, a port city about 70 miles south of Lon­don where fer­ries ply the English Chan­nel, head­ing to and from France. It was un­clear whether he was try­ing to board a ves­sel bound for

‘We are keep­ing an open mind around whether more than one per­son is re­spon­si­ble ... and we are still pur­su­ing nu­mer­ous lines of in­quiry.’ — Neil Basu, a counter-ter­ror­ism of­fi­cial at Lon­don’s Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice

France when he was taken into cus­tody.

Author­i­ties have nei­ther iden­ti­fied the sus­pect nor said whether he has been charged. They did not pro­vide any details about whether he was sus­pected of plant­ing the bomb or hav­ing played a sup­port­ing role in the at­tack. They only said he was be­ing taken to a po­lice sta­tion in Lon­don for fur­ther ques­tion­ing.

“At this stage we are keep­ing an open mind around whether more than one per­son is re­spon­si­ble for the at­tack and we are still pur­su­ing nu­mer­ous lines of in­quiry and at a great pace,” Basu added. Po­lice have been sift­ing through closed­cir­cuit TV images and have stud­ied the re­mains of the par­tially ex­ploded de­vice. They have hinted there may be more than one per­son in­volved.

The gath­er­ing speed of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was abun­dantly clear a few hours later when po­lice raided a house in the small town of Sun­bury, which is about 10 miles south of Par­sons Green and just south­west of Lon­don, and evac­u­ated nearby houses as a pre­cau­tion. A no-fly zone was cre­ated to keep out small planes and drones as po­lice stormed into the area.

“It is im­por­tant that we all re­main alert and vig­i­lant,” said Lon­don Mayor Sadiq Khan in a state­ment on his Face­book page. “There will be an in­creased po­lice pres­ence across Lon­don to­day and over this week­end, in­clud­ing ad­di­tional armed of­fi­cers. They are there to keep us safe.”

With the stiff-up­per-lip sen­ti­ment that has been a hall­mark of Bri­tain’s re­ac­tion to aerial at­tacks from Nazi war­planes in the 1940s and pre­vi­ous ter­ror­ist at­tacks, Khan added: “Lon­don will never be in­tim­i­dated by ter­ror­ism. We will al­ways de­feat those who seek to harm us and de­stroy our way of life.”

A to­tal of 36 peo­ple have been killed in four pre­vi­ous ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Bri­tain this year. The worst was May 22 in Manch­ester, when 22 were killed by a sui­cide bomber who set off his de­vice out­side the Manch­ester Arena at the end of a con­cert by Amer­i­can pop star Ari­ana Grande. The other at­tacks in Lon­don used knives and ve­hi­cles and took place near Par­lia­ment, on Lon­don Bridge and near a mosque in Fins­bury Park in North Lon­don.

“They were re­ally lucky with this one,” ter­ror­ism spe­cial­ist Mag­nus Ranstorp of the Swedish De­fense Univer­sity told the Associated Press. “It could have re­ally be­come much worse.”

Vic­to­ria Jones Associated Press

BRI­TISH po­lice con­verge on an area in Sun­bury, a town south­west of Lon­don. Author­i­ties raided a house and evac­u­ated nearby homes as a pre­cau­tion. A no-f ly zone was also cre­ated to keep out small planes and drones.

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