‘Bucket bomb’ in­jures dozens on Lon­don train

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - FRONT PAGE - BY SEWELL CHAN, PA­TRICK KINGS­LEY AND CEYLAN YEGINSU

LON­DON — Alex Ojeda-Sierra, 13, was on the train to school with a friend when they heard scream­ing and saw pas­sen­gers run­ning past.

Un­known to the boys, a bomb had ex­ploded in an­other car.

“I dropped my bag and we started run­ning,” Alex, who at­tends the Lon­don Ora­tory School, said from a wheel­chair

at Chelsea and West­min­ster Hos­pi­tal, where he was treated for fa­cial bruises and sprains when he tripped in the pan­icky crush of flee­ing com­muters.

“One man fell on me and I had my legs bent back­wards and my right an­kle got twisted and I started scream­ing that I had no air,” he said.

The bomb, wrapped in a plas­tic gro­cery bag con­cealed in a bucket, ex­ploded at 8:20 a.m. Fri­day at the height of the morn­ing rush. The ex­plo­sion and panic left 29 peo­ple in­jured, but none were killed.

It was the fifth ter­ror­ist at­tack in Britain this year and the first to hit Lon­don at its most vul­ner­a­ble point — mass tran­sit — since the 2005 bomb­ings that killed 55.

The Is­lamic State as­serted re­spon­si­bil­ity for the bucket bomb hours later in a mes­sage on its Amaq news site that said a “de­tach­ment” of its dis­ci­ples had car­ried out the at­tack — lan­guage that sug­gested more than one as­sailant.

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, call­ing the blast a “cow­ardly at­tack,” said the na­tional threat level had been raised to “crit­i­cal,” the high­est.

The bomb ex­ploded just af­ter the train drew into Par- sons Green, an el­e­vated sta­tion in a quiet and af­flu­ent part of West Lon­don. It bur ned at least one pas­sen­ger, who was car­ried away on a stretcher, and led to a stam­pede that in­jured others.

The at­tack re­vived the specter of mass ca­su­al­ties from ter­ror­ism on the Lon­don Un­der­ground, com­monly known as the Tube, the world’s old­est sub­way sys­tem and one of the busiest. Though one would-be at­tacker tried to bomb an Un­der­ground train in 2016, the de­vice failed to det­o­nate.

The most re­cent at­tack­ers in Lon­don, and across Europe, have in­stead used vans and cars as weapons to crush and maim peo­ple.

The head of se­cu­rity on the Un­der­ground at the time of the 2005 at­tacks, Ge­off Dun­lop, said it was un­sur­pris­ing that ter­ror­ism had re­turned to the Un­der­ground.

“You can do an aw­ful lot to make it safer but you can never to­tally se­cure it be­cause of the very na­ture of it,” said Dun­lop, who left the Un­der­ground in 2013 and now works as a pri­vate se­cu­rity con­sul­tant. “It has to be open.”

Wit­nesses on the train de­scribed a tremor, a wave of heat and then a bar­rage of flames that quickly dissi- pated.

“The train was packed, and I was down the other side of the car­riage stand­ing up, look­ing at my phone and then I heard a big boom and felt this heat on my face,” said Natalie Belford, 42, a hair­dresser and beau­ti­cian who was on the train. “I ran for my life, but there was no way out. The doors were full of peo­ple and the car­riage was too packed to move down.”

Lon­don’ s mayor, Sadiq Khan, a face of re­solve af­ter the ear­lier at­tacks, is­sued a de­fi­ant state­ment on Face­book that hinted at how ter­ror at­tacks had be­come a new nor­mal in the cap­i­tal.

“Our city ut­terly con­demns the hideous in­di­vid­u­als who at­tempt to use ter­ror to harm us and de­stroy our way of life,” Khan wrote. “As Lon­don has proven again and again, we will never be in­tim­i­dated or de­feated by ter­ror­ism.”

Po­lice were comb­ing through the ex­ten­sive CCTV footage that blan­kets all Un­der­ground sta­tions, with par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to the hand­ful of sta­tions to the west of Par­sons Green.

It was un­clear by Fri­day night whether any pos­si­ble sus­pects had been iden­ti­fied from CCTV sur­veil­lance.

Roy Ramm, a for­mer com- man­der of spe­cial­ist op­er­a­tions at Scot­land Yard, said po­lice would be un­der­tak­ing a com­pre­hen­sive foren­sic ex­am­i­na­tion of the train and the de­vice to de­ter­mine what hap­pened.

“The po­lice will also ask wit­nesses the age-old ques­tion: Did any­one see what hap­pened?” he said. “They will be in­ves­ti­gat­ing what the det­o­na­tion mech­a­nism was and go­ing through CCTV footage to see who might be behind it.”

The de­vice did not ap­pear to det­o­nate prop­erly, as the bucket, the bag and a se­ries of wires all re­mained in­tact even af­ter the ex­plo­sion.

The sub­ur­ban set­ting of the at­tack, sev­eral miles west of down­town Lon­don, sparked de­bate about whether the bomb had been mis­taken ly det­o­nated pre­ma­turely— or was pur­pose ly meant to highlight how no par t of the city is safe.

“Par­sons Green is not em­blem­atic or sym­bolic, and I think that will be a puz­zle­ment for in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cers, who will ask: Was it in­tended to be det­o­nated or did it go of f there by ac­ci­dent?” Ramm said. “If you look at a list of tar­get ar­eas in Lon­don, Par­sons Green would not be in the top 100.”

DO­MINIC LIPINSKI / PA VIA AP

An in­jured woman is as­sisted by a po­lice of­fi­cer close to Par­sons Green sta­tion in west Lon­don af­ter an ex­plo­sion on a packed Lon­don Un­der­ground train Fri­day. Lon­don’s Metropoli­tan Po­lice says a fire on the Lon­don sub­way has been de­clared a “ter­ror­ist in­ci­dent.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In this aerial im­age made from video, emer­gency work­ers help peo­ple to dis­em­bark a train near the Par­sons Green Un­der­ground Sta­tion af­ter an ex­plo­sion in Lon­don on Fri­day. The ex­plo­sion at a train sta­tion sent com­muters stam­ped­ing in panic, in­jur­ing sev­eral peo­ple at the height of Lon­don’s morn­ing rush hour.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.