U.K. cops ar­rest man in London sub­way at­tack

Au­thor­i­ties said the 29 in­jured in Fri­day’s bomb­ing largely suf­fered from flash burns

Santa Fe New Mexican - - NATION & WORLD - By Cey­lan Ye­ginsu and Stephen Far­rell

LONDON — Fol­low­ing a fast-mov­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion and man­hunt, Bri­tish po­lice on Satur­day morn­ing ar­rested an 18-year-old man in con­nec­tion with the at­tack on the London sub­way that in­jured at least 29 people in what po­lice called a ter­ror­ist in­ci­dent.

Au­thor­i­ties said the man has been ar­rested by Kent po­lice in the port area of Dover on the English Chan­nel.

Deputy As­sis­tant Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Neil Basu called the op­er­a­tion a “sig­nif­i­cant ar­rest.” He said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is on­go­ing.

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.

A home­made bomb ex­ploded on a London sub­way train at Par­sons Green sta­tion Fri­day morn­ing, send­ing a scorch­ing blast of flame and smoke through a London sub­way car.

On Satur­day morn­ing, se­cu­rity mea­sures re­mained tight­ened across London’s vast mass-tran­sit net­work, and the gov­ern­ment de­scribed the threat level as crit­i­cal, mean­ing an­other at­tack could be im­mi­nent.

Bri­tish media re­ported that the crude ex­plo­sive de­vice, car­ried in a bucket and shoved into a shop­ping bag, had a timer, sug­gest­ing that some de­gree of bomb­mak­ing knowl­edge was em­ployed.

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.

The ex­plo­sion on London’s Tube is bound to rekin­dle pointed de­bate about whether coun­tries such 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.” Shortly after, Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May re­torted that such crit­i­cism was not help­ful.

“This was a de­vice in­tended to cause sig­nif­i­cant harm,” May said, but it re­mained un­clear whether the ex­plo­sive may have det­o­nated pre­ma­turely or mal­func­tioned at the Par­sons Green sta­tion, about three miles south­west of central London.

It was not cer­tain whether the bomber was among those hurt or was now on the run. In a sign that a man­hunt could be mo­bi­lized, London po­lice ap­pealed to the pub­lic to sub­mit cell­phone im­ages taken at the scene. Bri­tish media said that in­ves­ti­ga­tors had im­ages of a sus­pect from closed­cir­cuit tele­vi­sion. The home­made de­vice blew up on the in­bound train, nine stops from West­min­ster, the seat of the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment.

After the at­tack, Trump tweeted: “An­other at­tack in London by a loser ter­ror­ist. Th­ese are sick and de­mented people who were in the sights of Scot­land Yard. Must be proac­tive!”

It was un­clear whether Trump had been briefed by his se­cu­rity ad­vis­ers and knew some­thing of the iden­tity of the as­sailants. At the time, nei­ther the London po­lice nor the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment had said any­thing pub­licly be­yond de­scrib­ing the det­o­na­tion as a sus­pected ter­ror­ist at­tack.

Fol­low­ing Trump’s tweets, and with­out men­tion­ing the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent by name, May said that it’s not “help­ful for any­body to spec­u­late on … an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

Later, dur­ing a brief ap­pear­ance out­side the White House, Trump fur­ther ham­mered a hard­line mes­sage, say­ing: “We have to be very smart and we have to be very, very tough — per­haps we’re not nearly tough enough.”

Trump later called May to “con­vey his sym­pa­thies and prayers for those in­jured” and “pledged to con­tinue close col­lab­o­ra­tion” with Bri­tain to stop such at­tacks world­wide.

Dur­ing a tu­mul­tuous elec­tion cam­paign that was in­ter­rupted by two ter­ror­ist at­tacks, the Bri­tish prime min­is­ter re­peat­edly promised harsh new mea­sures. May vowed that “if hu­man rights laws get in the way” of pro­tect­ing Bri­tain, she would change those laws.

At the time, ex­perts won­dered whether May’s tough talk could be matched by more ac­tion in a coun­try con­sid­ered one of the world’s most proac­tive on coun­tert­er­ror­ism.

“The threat is now so dif­fuse that it is un­clear how those mea­sures could be more ef­fec­tively used to pre­vent fu­ture at­tacks,” said Raf­faello Pan­tucci, di­rec­tor of the In­ter­na­tional Se­cu­rity Stud­ies group at the Royal United Ser­vices In­sti­tute in London. “One of the few pos­si­bil­i­ties would be to im­pose harsher sen­tences for ter­ror-re­lated of­fenses, and that is cer­tainly some­thing be­ing con­sid­ered.”

Shortly after the ex­plo­sion, the right-wing, pop­ulist U.K. In­de­pen­dence Party tweeted, “Thank good­ness no­body se­ri­ous hurt at #Par­son­sGreen but we can­not rely on ji­hadist in­com­pe­tence.”

Au­thor­i­ties said the in­jured suf­fered from flash burns. Emer­gency ser­vices said none of those hurt had life-threat­en­ing in­juries.

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