Police arrest 18-year-old in London subway attack; threat level still high
LONDON — After a fastmoving investigation and manhunt, British police on Saturday morning arrested an 18-year-old man in an attack the previous day on the London subway. The attack, which authorities labeled as terrorism, injured at least 29 people.
Authorities said the man was arrested by Kent police in the port area of Dover on the English Channel. Police suspect he might have been seeking a boat out of England.
In addition, armed police raided and began searching a property in Sunbury, west of London, Saturday afternoon. Counterterrorism units were at the scene, and police told reporters the operation was connected to the subway explosion.
The homemade bomb went off at Parsons Green station Friday morning, sending a scorching blast of flame and smoke through the subway car.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said it was “good fortune” the improvised explosive device “did so little damage,” but she suggested that the materials used to build the bomb were too readily available.
“We have to make certain we take all the steps we can to ensure that the sort of materials this man was able to collect become more and more difficult to combine together,” Rudd said.
Deputy Assistant Police Commissioner Neil Basu called the arrest significant but added that the investigation is continuing.
The man is being held for questioning under the Terrorism Act. “For strong investigative reasons, we will not give any more details on the man we arrested at this stage,” Basu said.
After the bombing, security measures were immediately tightened across London’s vast mass-transit network, and the government described the threat level as critical, meaning another attack could be imminent.
The Islamic State terrorist group asserted responsibility for the explosion on its Amaq News Agency website.
Experts cautioned that the group often seeks credit for attacks it may have only inspired, as well as ones it had nothing to do with.
As the investigation unfolded, in London the message was the now-familiar “keep calm and carry on.”
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick traveled — very visibly, escorted by news media — via the Underground subway to Waterloo station and “patrolled” the South Bank of the River Thames.
“Yesterday, we saw a cowardly and indiscriminate attack, which could have resulted in many lives being lost,” said Dick, adding that “officers throughout London (were) mobilizing and providing an increased visible police presence — especially in crowded places.”
The explosion on London’s Tube is bound to rekindle pointed debate about whether such countries as Britain have been tough enough in fighting terrorism. Just hours after the blast, President Donald Trump suggested that Britain needed to be “more proactive.”
Police forensic officers enter a property in Sunbury-on-Thames, in southwest London, as part of the probe into Friday’s bombing.