Police make key arrest in London subway bombing
LONDON — British police made an apparent breakthrough Saturday in the race-against-time subway bombing investigation with what they called a “very significant” arrest, but the country remained on a “critical” alert, meaning another attack is judged imminent.
Police arrested an 18-yearold man in the port of Dover — the main ferry link to France — and then launched a massive armed search in the southwestern London suburb of Sunbury in which they evacuated residents, established a huge cordon and imposed a no-fly zone above the property being searched.
Police did not say that they had arrested 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.
The man is being held under the Terrorism Act and has been brought to London for questioning. He was not immediately identified. Authorities also would not say if they thought the man was trying to flee to France on a Dover ferry.
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 the threat of imminent attack has eased.
The homemade bomb on the rush-hour train only partially detonated — Rudd said it could have been much worse — and there are fears that accomplices may have similar devices. Experts said the bomb could have caused many fatalities if it had functioned properly. Three of the 29 people injured by the blast remained hospitalized Saturday.
In Sunbury, police did not reveal details about the search, but the precautions suggested concern that there might be explosives or violent extremists on the property. The Islamic State group has claimed one of its units planted the bomb.
Police are combing through closed-circuit TV images and have extensively studied the remains of the partially detonated explosive device, which was contained in a bucket and concealed in a plastic shopping bag.
The train hit by the bomber at Parsons Green station in 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 above-ground passageways.
Officers observe the crowd outside Wembley Park Station before a soccer match. Security was increased across Britain after Friday’s subway bombing in London that injured 29 people.