Manhunt on after homemade bomb wounds 22 on London subway

LONDON (AP) — Hundreds of London police embarked on a massive manhunt Friday, racing to find out who placed a homemade bomb on a packed London subway train during the morning rush hour. The explosion wounded 22 people and ignited a panicked stampede to safety.

Witnesses described seeing a “wall of fire” as the bomb — hidden in a plastic bucket inside a supermarket freezer bag — went off about 8:20 a.m. while the train was at the Parsons Green station in southwest London.

It was not a large explosion, and British police and health officials said none of the injured was thought to be seriously hurt. Yet police said it was a terrorist attack, the fifth in Britain this year.

Six hours later, the Metropolitan Police force said there had been no arrests, but hundreds of detectives, aided by intelligence agents, were looking at surveillance camera footage in the subway, carrying out forensic work and speaking to witnesses.

The site of the blast is in a leafy, affluent part of the city, not near any of London’s top tourist sites. British media reported that the bomb included a timer. It’s not clear whether the device was intended to explode when it did.

Police were alerted when commuters reported a noise and a flash aboard the District Line train.

Others described “absolute chaos” as hundreds of people rushed to get away from the danger.

Mark Rowley, head of counterterrorism for the Metropolitan Police, said “this was a detonation of an improvised explosive device.”

He said 18 people had been injured, most with “flash burns.” Health officials later said four others hurt in the bombing went to hospital themselves.

Rowley said Britain’s domestic intelligence service, MI5, was assisting with the investigation, led by the police counter-terrorism unit.

He gave no information about potential suspects, saying “It’s very much a live investigation.”

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that it was another attack “by a loser terrorist,” adding that “these are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard.”

The London police force declined to comment on Trump’s suggestion that it knew about the attacker.

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.

During rush hour, the subway train could hold more than 800 people. Aerial footage later showed commuters from other subway trains being evacuated along the elevated track.

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.

 

 

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