ShareThis Page
World

London subway explosion injures at least 22, treated as terror attack

| Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, 5:33 a.m.

LONDON — A homemade bomb exploded on a packed London subway train during rush hour on Friday, leaving at least 22 people injured but no one seriously hurt. Police said the explosion was a terrorist attack, the fifth in Britain this year.

Commuters reported a noise and a flash aboard the District Line train at Parsons Green station in the southwest of the city, followed by chaos as hundreds of people rushed to get away from danger.

Mark Rowley, head of counterterrorism for the Metropolitan Police, said "we now assess this was a detonation of an improvised explosive device."

He said 18 people had been injured, most with "flash burns."

Photos taken inside the train show a white plastic bucket inside a foil-lined shopping bag. Flames and what appear to be wires emerge from the top.

London ambulance service said they had sent multiple crews to the Parsons Green station and 18 people were hospitalized, though none had life-threatening injuries.

U.S. President Donald Trump is calling it another attack "by a loser terrorist" and suggesting police there may have missed an opportunity to prevent it. He also is suggesting that the government cut off internet access to extremist roups.

Trump tweeted Friday: "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!"

He later added: "Loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner. The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off & use better!"

"There was out of the corner of my eye a massive flash of flames that went up the side of the train," eyewitness Chris Wildish told Sky News, then "an acrid chemical smell."

He said many of those on board were schoolchildren, who were knocked around as the crowd surged away from the fireball.

Another commuter, Richard Aylmer-Hall, said he saw several people injured, apparently trampled as they fled what he described as a packed train.

At capacity, the train could hold more than 800 people.

"I saw crying women, there was lots of shouting and screaming, there was a bit of a crush on the stairs going down to the streets," Aylmer-Hall, said.

Ryan Barnett, 25, said the scene as people tried to leave the station was "absolute chaos."

He said, "I ended up squashed on the staircase, people were falling over, people fainting, crying, there were little kids clinging on to the back of me."

Aerial footage later showed commuters from other subway trains being evacuated along the elevated track.

Rowley said the domestic intelligence service, MI5, was assisting with the investigation, led by the police Counterterrorism Command.

He gave no information about potential suspects, saying "It's very much a live investigation."

Transport for London said subway services were suspended along the line.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the city "utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life."

London has been targeted by attackers several times this year, with deadly vehicle attacks near Parliament, on London Bridge and near a mosque in Finsbury Park in north London. Beyond the capital, a May 22 suicide bomb attack at Manchester Arena killed 22 people.

The London Underground itself has been targeted several times in the past, notably in July 2005, when suicide bombers blew themselves up on three subway trains and a bus, killing 52 people and themselves. Four more bombers tried a similar attack two weeks later, but their devices failed to fully explode.

Last year Damon Smith, a student with an interest in weapons and Islamic extremism, left a knapsack filled with explosives and ball bearings on a London subway train. It failed to explode.

In its recent Inspire magazine, al-Qaida urged supporters to target trains.

Separately, French counterterrorism authorities were investigating an attempted knife attack on a soldier patrolling a large Paris subway interchange.

The Paris prosecutor's office says counterterrorism investigators have opened a probe into Friday morning's incident at the Chatelet station in central Paris, based on preliminary examination of the attacker's background.

The knife-wielding assailant tried to attack a soldier with a special military force assigned to protect prominent sites following deadly Islamic extremist attacks. He was quickly arrested and no one was hurt.

An injured woman is assisted by a police officer after an explosion on a packed London train at Parsons Green station in west London, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017.
An injured woman is assisted by a police officer after an explosion on a packed London train at Parsons Green station in west London, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017.
Fire Brigade officers walk within a cordon near where an incident happened, that police say they are investigating as a terrorist attack, at Parsons Green subway station in London, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. A bucket wrapped in an insulated bag caught fire on a packed London subway train Friday, sending commuters stampeding in panic at the height of the morning rush hour. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Fire Brigade officers walk within a cordon near where an incident happened, that police say they are investigating as a terrorist attack, at Parsons Green subway station in London, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. A bucket wrapped in an insulated bag caught fire on a packed London subway train Friday, sending commuters stampeding in panic at the height of the morning rush hour. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
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 Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. A reported explosion at a train station sent commuters stampeding in panic, injuring several people at the height of London's morning rush hour, and police said they were investigating it as a terrorist attack. (Pool via AP)
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 Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. A reported explosion at a train station sent commuters stampeding in panic, injuring several people at the height of London's morning rush hour, and police said they were investigating it as a terrorist attack. (Pool via AP)
In this aerial image made from video, police officers work at the Parsons Green Underground Station after an explosion in London Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. A reported explosion at a train station sent commuters stampeding in panic, injuring several people at the height of London's morning rush hour, and police said they were investigating it as a terrorist attack. (Pool via AP)
In this aerial image made from video, police officers work at the Parsons Green Underground Station after an explosion in London Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. A reported explosion at a train station sent commuters stampeding in panic, injuring several people at the height of London's morning rush hour, and police said they were investigating it as a terrorist attack. (Pool via AP)
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me