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UK arrests man in train attack as threat level stays critical

UK arrests man in train attack as threat level stays critical

3 min. 16.09.2017 From our online archive
The man was arrested in the port area of Dover, a major ferry hub for travel to France, on Saturday and is being held under a section of the UK Terrorism Act.

(Bloomberg) Police have arrested an 18-year-old man on the UK's southeast coast in connection with the detonation of an improvised bomb on a London tube train that injured at least 29 people.

The man was arrested in the port area of Dover, a major ferry hub for travel to France, on Saturday and is being held under a section of the UK Terrorism Act, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement. He is being held at a local police station then will be transferred to a south London station "in due course."

"We have made a significant arrest in our investigation this morning," Neil Basu, senior national coordinator for counter terrorism policing, said in the statement. "Although we are pleased with the progress made, this investigation continues and the threat level remains at critical."

The man in custody wasn’t identified by police.

The UK terror threat level was raised to highest level, signaling further attacks may be imminent, Prime Minister Theresa May said late Friday, as police hunted for suspects who set off the improvised bomb at the Parsons Green station at about 8.20 am, causing what witnesses described as a fireball. The joint terrorism analysis centre’s assessment "is that further attacks may be imminent," May said in a recorded statement.

May said earlier that the device was "intended to cause serious harm." Sky News broadcast images of a small fire in a bucket and Lidl shopping bag with wires protruding and said the device, which had a timer, had probably failed to detonate fully.

In the Saturday update, London police said the public should "remain vigilant" as it works through a "complex investigation." Troops have been deployed as part of an operation to free up some 1,000 armed police so they can protect transport hubs and events.

"Rest assured the full resources of our police and security services are being deployed to track down those responsible," London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Friday in a statement.

Trump Storm

US President Donald Trump said on Friday on Twitter that the "loser terrorist" was "in the sights of Scotland Yard," a reference to the headquarters of London’s Metropolitan Police Service.

May complained directly to him when Trump called to offer condolences, according to a UK government official familiar with the conversation. She was more measured in a pooled broadcast interview earlier.

"I never think it’s helpful for anyone to speculate on what’s an ongoing investigation," she said.

In an apparent US leak, CBS reported that the explosives were consistent with those used in another recent attack. The US and UK have close intelligence-sharing ties and the UK has publicly criticised US leaks of police intelligence after previous attacks.

The attack is the fifth this year in the UK and Londoners are growing accustomed to the sight of armed police patrolling the transport network. Police said on Thursday that terrorism-related arrests had risen 68% over the past year.

Earlier this year assailants with vans and knives attacked passers by on Westminster Bridge and London Bridge in two separate strikes, and a van was driven into worshippers outside a mosque in Finsbury Park. A suicide bomber attacked a concert venue in Manchester in May, killing more than 20 people including children and mothers. The terror threat level was raised to critical after that attack and lowered four days later to severe, meaning an attack is considered highly likely but not imminent.

Most of the attacks have been claimed or praised by the jihadist group Islamic State. On Friday, the Amaq news outlet said the London explosion had been carried out by a "group following the Islamic State."

After the explosion at Parsons Green station in southwest London, passengers were caught in a stampede as they tried to flee. Ambulances rushed people to hospital, although the injuries weren’t life-threatening with most suffering what police called 'flash burns' to their faces, hands and hair.

"There was a massive flash and flame that went up the side of the train, then an acrid chemical smell, then a big stampede," Chris Wildish, a witness, told Sky News. "The crush for the stairs was pretty heavy."