Blast At London Subway Station Called Terrorist Incident

Friday, September 15th 2017, 4:56 am
By: News On 6

There was panic Friday morning at a London Underground train station after an explosion on a packed train left at least 22 people injured in an apparent bombing attempt which may have failed, at least partially.

"Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the senior national coordinator for CT (counter-terrorism) policing, has declared it a terrorist incident," the Metropolitan Police said in a statement about two hours after chaos erupted on a train at Parsons Green station, in the southwest part of the British capital.  

Commuters from the train posted messages and photos on social media showing police and firefighters on the scene and describing panic as people escaped the train car and then got out of the station, which is an above-ground stop on the London Underground network, known as the tube. 

London Ambulance Service said 22 people were taken to area hospitals with injuries, but that "none are thought to be in a serious or life-threatening condition." 

Most of the injuries appeared to be burns. Others were reportedly hurt in the crush as hundreds of commuters rushed to get out of the station.

Peter Crowly, who was on the train, told BBC News shortly after the incident that he "heard a large bang from other side of the tube train" and that a "firewall" flashed above his head. He posted photos on his Twitter account showing a burn to his forehead and a patch of hair that appeared to be scorched.

Multiple photos posted online showed what appeared to be a large plastic bucket sitting inside a shopping bag, with what looked like charring around the top of the bucket. 

The photos showed no obvious signs of an explosion, but some images showed small flames still burning around the package. 

Witnesses from the train reported seeing a large flash or fireball. There was no extensive damage seen around the bag containing the charred bucket. Some images appeared to show wires protruding from the top of the bag. 

Police would not immediately confirm that the package was connected to the explosion. An officer at the scene described an "item exploding to a small degree" on the train.

A security source with knowledge of the ongoing investigation into the Parson's Green incident told CBS News that, according to initial assessments, the bucket likely contained a homemade explosive consistent with use in recent terrorism incidents. 

Richard Walton, former head of counter-terrorism at the Metropolitan Police and now a CBS News security consultant, said investigators would be trying to quickly determine if the small blast was caused by a viable explosive device.  

If it was a viable bomb, a former bomb disposal officer tells CBS News it's possible that the bang and fire were caused by a detonator exploding, but failing to ignite the primary explosive charge.

London Underground suspended services on a stretch of the District Line, the one affected by the incident, but said the rest of the network would continue running.

Police would not confirm whether they were actively searching for any suspects in the apparent attack on the tube train, and there was no indication that anyone had been taken into custody.   

A hazardous area response team was on the scene from the London Ambulance Service, along with dozens of firefighters, and armed Metropolitan Police officers could also be seen around the station, which was sealed off. 

British Prime Minister Theresa May was "receiving regular updates" on the situation at Parsons Green, according to her office. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.