UK terror threat level raised to critical after ISIS ‘cell’ claims responsibility for Tube train bombing

Theresa May raised Britain’s terror threat level to critical after an ISIS “cell” claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on the Tube.

The Prime Minister raised Britain’s terror threat level to the highest possible stage, meaning another attack could be expected imminently.

It came after the terror group ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing on a packed rush hour train at Parsons Green in west London during the morning rush hour which left 29 people injured.

 The Prime Minister said military personnel would replace police officers “on guard duties at certain protected sites which are not accessible to the public”.
Mrs May said: “The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) has now decided to raise the national threat level from severe to critical.

“This means that their assessment is that a future attack may be imminent.

“Following JTAC’s decision police have asked for authorisation from the Secretary of State for Defence to enact part of the first phase of operation Temperer.

“This is a well established plan to provide military support to the police and for this period military personnel will replace police officers on guard duties at certain protected sites which are not accessible to the public.

“The public will see more armed police on the transport network and on our streets providing extra protection and this is a proportionate and sensible step which will provide extra reassurance and protection while the investigation progresses.

“The public should go about their business in the normal way and as usual be vigilant and cooperate with the police.

“I’ve said earlier that terrorism is a great challenge of our times but by standing together we will defeat it.”

It was reported that the bombing was the work of a “detachment” of ISIS, rather than a “soldier” acting alone.

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Scotland Yard has launched a huge counter-terrorism investigation alongside MI5, while the device is being forensically examined.

Pictures posted on social media appeared to show wires protruding from a flaming bucket inside a plastic carrier bag on the floor of a carriage.

The suspected device, apparently a builder’s bucket filled with a white substance that had been placed in a Lidl bag, was seen in flames afterwards, with wires hanging out of the bag. One theory is that the device failed to fully detonate.

Detectives are scouring CCTV and examining witness statements for clues in their hunt for one or more suspects.

Mark Rowley, Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations of the Metropolitan Police Service said: “We are making excellent progress at the moment as we pursue our lines of enquiry to identify, to locate and to arrest those responsible.

“This is a very complex investigation which is continuing at speed with the full weight of the London counter terrorism’s policing resources assisted by colleagues across the country and by our intelligence agency partners at M15.

“We have hundreds of police officers trawling through CCTV footage, detectives have spoken to tens of witnesses and we’ve taken a number of calls to the anti-terrorism hotline from members of the public.”

Members of the public have sent in so far 77 images and videos they’ve taken at the scene which are being assessed, he said.

“Meanwhile the improvised explosive device on the train, the remnants of it have now been made safe and they’ve been taken away for specialist examination by forensics scientists.

“Whilst we chase down the suspects we are strengthening our policing resources on the streets of London and across the country.

“The public should expect to see extra policing resources armed and unarmed on the streets, additional stop and search using counter terrorism powers and potentially additional road checks.

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“What this means for members of public over the weekend is that at transport hubs, at events and in crowded places they will see these extra resources.”

What we know so far about the Parsons Green ‘terror attack’

Shuchen Warner was travelling to work from Caterham and was just metres from the explosion, which took place in the rear carriage at 8.20am. The teacher said: “There was a surge of fire. I heard a woman screaming.

“A fireball came down the train. People were running and screaming. I heard a loud bang, there was panic and shock. A woman’s hair was burned — it was terrible. People ran, I fell to the floor… it was like a nightmare.”

One passenger, Chris Wildish, told BBC 5 Live: “Flames were still coming out of it when I saw it, and a lot of wires hanging out of it.”

He said the explosion happened as the train came to a halt after arriving in the station. “There was a loud noise, not a bang, more a thumping noise,” he said.

“Two things happened — first, a very strong acrid, chemical smell, and then a stampede. It was pretty scary. All you see is a wave of people screaming, running towards you.”

Michael Bennett, 38, who was in the carriage, said it was “standing-room only” as the Edgware Road-bound train approached Parsons Green. He told the Standard: “I just heard a big noise and saw a shot of flames come past. I could feel it singe the back of my head.

“At that point the door was open and I just ran out on to the platform. At Parsons Green there is just one staircase down. There was a mass of people. I didn’t see any staff on the platform.

“When I got on the platform it just came to a complete standstill. It was clear that some people had fallen on the stairs in the rush and were being stood on and crushed.”

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Aaron Butterfield, an operations manager, said: “As I approached the station people were piling out. They weren’t even running — they were falling over each other to flee.

“We were told there was an explosion on the District line and someone was running around with a knife.

“We were told there is a second explosive device somewhere.”

London Fire Brigade sent six fire engines, two fire rescue units and about 50 firefighters and specialist officers. The District line was suspended between Wimbledon and Earl’s Court.

Mayor Sadiq Khan has condemned the “evil” and “hideous” attackers for attempting to “destroy our way of life”.

The Mayor urged Londoners to remain vigilant and said the capital would “stand together today as always”.

“The national threat level has now been raised to ‘critical’ after the evil and cowardly terrorist attack at Parsons Green,” he said.

“As the Prime Minister has said, this is our highest level of security preparedness.

“I utterly condemn the hideous individuals who target innocent people and attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life.”

He urged anyone who “knows anything at all about who might be responsible for this attack” to contact police.

He added: “Everything possible is being done to protect our city and keep us all safe, both Londoners and visitors to the capital.”

“We will never let those who seek to divide us win – we will never be intimidated or defeated by terrorism.”

Anyone with information is urged to call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 or 999 in an emergency.