London Tube terror attack: Isis claims responsibility for bombing as police launch major manhunt

Ellen Manning

A huge manhunt is underway for those responsible for a terror attack that sparked panic on a packed London Tube train and left 29 people injured though, miraculously, no one was killed.

Isis has claimed responsibility for the attack, which happened during the rush hour commute when an improvised explosive device was detonated sending a “fireball” through the train carriage at Parsons Green station in south-west London.

Police reportedly know the identity of the suspected bomber and officers are “chasing down suspects”.

Late on Friday night, Theresa May raise the terror threat level to critical, the highest level, which means authorities think another attack may be “imminent”.

It is the fourth time the assessment has been placed at the highest level for the past 11 years.

Passengers, including children, fled the District Line train after the attack, which took place at around 8.20am.

Eyewitnesses described a “fireball” and a “wall of flame” through the packed London Underground train after the blast, as one commuter described how his hair was left singed by the blast. 

A huge investigation led by the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command is now underway, with hundreds of detectives carrying out enquiries including examining CCTV, forensic work and speaking to eyewitnesses.

The Amaq news agency, the media arm of Isis, has claimed responsibility for the attack, though there is no concrete evidence the jihadist group directed the attack.

According to Sky News’ Home Affairs Correspondent Mark White, security sources say they have identified a suspect involved in the bombing with the help of CCTV footage.

Met Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley suggested there may have been more than one person involved stating that police were “chasing down suspects”.

In a statement outside Scotland Yard, the UK’s most senior anti-terror police officer said: “Somebody has planted an improvised explosive device on the Tube – we have to be open-minded at this stage about him and about potential associates.”

Injuries – 29 people are being treated in hospital after the blast which sent a “fireball” and a “wall of flame” through a packed London Underground train (Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)
Bucket bomb – eyewitnesses took pictures of a bucket flickering with flames (Picture: Sylvain Pennec/PA Wire)
Investigation – A huge investigation is underway, including forensic work at the scene (Picture: REUTERS/Hannah McKay)

Asked if it was clear whether the person responsible was on the train at the time, Mr Rowley said: “It’s very much a live investigation and we are following down the lines of enquiry as I said.”

He said Londoners can expect to see an “enhanced police presence”, particularly across the transport system across the day” and called on anyone with information to contact authorities as a matter of urgency.

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NHS England said 29 patients in total were being treated at Imperial, Chelsea and Westminster, Guy’s and St Thomas’ and the Central London Community Healthcare Urgent Care Centre.

 

Eyewitnesses described the horror of the explosion as images were shared on social media of what was believed to be the device, which some reports have suggested had a timer.

Some pictures showed what looked like a white container with flames flickering inside, while other people said they had seen a bag with wires on the train.


Sylvain Pennec, a software developer from Southfields, near Wimbledon, was about 10 metres from the source of the explosion when fire filled the carriage.

“I heard a boom and when I looked there were flames all around,” he said.

“People started to run but we were lucky to be stopping at Parsons Green as the door started to open.”

He described chaotic scenes as commuters struggled to escape the carriage, “collapsing and pushing” each other.

Mr Pennec stayed behind to take a closer look at what he believed was the source of the explosion, saying it “looked like a bucket of mayonnaise”.

Shock – eyewitnesses described the horror as the bomb exploded (Picture: REUTERS/Kevin Coombs)

Chris Wildish, who was on the train, said he saw a “device” in the last carriage.

“It was a white bucket, a builder’s bucket, in a white Aldi bag or Lidl bag,” he told 5 live.

“Flames were still coming out of it when I saw it and had a lot of wires hanging out of it – I can only assume it was done on purpose.

“It was standing against the door of the rear-most carriage.”

This graphic shows where the bomb is believed to have exploded within the busy carriage (Picture: PA)

One passenger, named only as Lucas, told BBC 5 live: “I heard a really loud explosion – when I looked back there appeared to be a bag but I don’t know if it’s associated with it.

“I saw people with minor injuries, burnings to the face, arms, legs, multiple casualties in that way. People were helping each other.”

 

Rush hour – Map of where the bomb detonated on the District Line train at Parsons Green (Picture: PA)

Another witness, Sham, said he saw a man with blood all over his face.

“There were loads of people crying and shaking,” he told 5 live. “There were a lot of people limping and covered in blood.

“One guy I saw, his face was covered in blood – I’ve never seen anything like it.”

(Click the below images)

Commuter Robyn Frost was arriving at the station when she saw people trying to escape.

She told the BBC: “I walked into the station, there was blood on the floor and people running down the stairs screaming ‘get out’. People were coming out of the station covered in blood.”

She added: “People have been stretchered into ambulances now.”

Reaction – emergency services raced to the scene after the explosion just after 8am (Picture: Richard Aylmer-Hall/PA Wire)

BBC News presenter Sophie Raworth, who was at the scene, said she saw a woman on a stretcher with burns to her face and legs.

“I spoke to a woman, Laura Bishop, who said she was standing there and all of a sudden heard a bang – and saw a wall of flames, flames in the carriage,” she said.

“She saw people who had burns on their hair, burns on their head and the doors opened immediately.”


She added: “I have just seen a woman who was just stretchered off here and clearly her legs are wrapped up and she has burns.

“She had burns to her face – she’s conscious, she was taking oxygen and pain relief as well.

“She seemed to have burns all over her body from top to toe.”


Prime Minister Theresa May was set to chair a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergencies committee this afternoon to discuss the incident at Parsons Green.

She said: “My thoughts are with those injured at Parsons Green and the emergency services who, once again, are responding swiftly and bravely to a suspected terrorist incident.”

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump slammed the “loser terrorist” responsible for the attack.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said people had been targeted in a “callous and indiscriminate way” and paid tribute to the “professionalism and tireless commitment” of the emergency services, urging Londoners to remain alert.

Cordon – the area remains cordoned off as investigations begin into the terrorist attack (Picture: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
‘Fireball’ – the blast was said to have sent a “wall of flame” through the packed London Underground train (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

 

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