In extraordinary scenes in both London and Rome, police investigating the attempted bombings in London on July 21 arrested all four suspected would-be suicide bombers who failed to repeat the atrocities of July 7.
Armed police carried out a number of raids across London on Friday
London has sadly become accustomed to scenes of high drama in recent weeks and the events in a West London suburb and in other areas across the capital on Friday added yet more chapters to a story of tragedy and suspense that has horrified and gripped the nation and the rest of the world.
At around 11:00 UTC, armed police surrounded two houses in Dalgarno Gardens, a run-down estate of public housing apartments in the White City area, before firing tear-gas canisters and apparently throwing stun grenades into the houses where two of the four suspected July 21 bombers were suspected of being holed up.
The raid took place a few hundred meters from where a fifth bomb was found abandoned in bushes two days after the failed attacks.
As startled residents ran for safety, some not even given enough time to get dressed, police surrounding the properties shouted instructions to the men -- thought at the time to be Eritrean-born Hackney bus bomber Muktar Mohammed Said, also known as Muktar Said Ibrahim -- and another unnamed suspect.
Police arrest suspect "Mohammed"
"Mohammed, come out with (only) your underwear on and your hands up." A police officer at the scene was heard to shout to which came the reply: "Why should I come out like that?" The police officer then shouted: "We need to check you haven't got explosives on you."
After an agonizing wait and repeated calls for the men to come out, the police made their move. Two short but loud explosions rang out across the suburban streets as stun grenades were fired into the houses. A flurry of activity followed as armed officers stormed the buildings.
Some moments later, two officers in full forensic suits led a third man, also in full overalls, from the rear of the house to an unmarked car. The suspect and officers then sped away to London's high security Paddington Green police station. Another followed shortly after carrying the second suspect.
Three July 21 bombers caught in England
If their identities and connections are confirmed, the two men will join Somali-born Yasin Hassan Omar in custody as three of the failed suicide bombers responsible for attempted attacks on July 21.
Yasin Hassan Omar
Omar, accused of trying to bomb an underground train at Warrant Street tube station, was arrested in a similar raid in Birmingham, central England, on Wednesday where he was disabled by a Tazer stun gun before being driven to the capital for questioning.
Fourth suspect arrested in Rome
The fourth suspected bomber was later said to be in custody in Rome, making it a very successful day for the investigation into the attempted July 21 bombings and the far deadlier July 7 attacks.
"The arrest took place a short while ago in Rome of the Somali, Osman Hussain, a naturalized British citizen, the fourth attacker in London on July 21," Italian Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu said in a statement. "The anti-terrorism operation is still ongoing, and has been conducted in the context of close international collaboration." He gave no details about the arrest.
The ANSA news agency said Hussain was seized by a special police anti-terrorist cell, the DIGOS, from an apartment in the Tor Pignattara area on the periphery of the Italian capital at about 14:30 UCT. He was then taken to Rome police headquarters, the agency said.
The four would-be London bombers mounted their abortive attacks exactly two weeks after four suspected Islamist militants killed themselves and 52 other people in blasts on three underground trains and a bus in London.
Raids across city, arrests at Liverpool Street
As well as the raid in Dalgarno Gardens, police sealed off streets around Notting Hill, another part of west London, and mounted another raid, residents said. And at Liverpool Street station, just on the eastern edge of the city center, armed police made yet more arrests, a spokesman for British Transport Police said. A witness told AFP he saw two women wearing Islamic scarves pinned down by officers after they ran away when stopped for a routine check.
Police operations continue apace across the UK. Nine men were arrested by police in Tooting, south London, on Thursday, bringing the total number of people held under anti-terrorist laws over the London attacks to 20.
In other developments, Haroon Rashid Aswad, a Briton linked in media reports to an attempt to set up a militant training camp in the United States as well as being suspected of involvement in the July 7 London bombings, was arrested in Zambia, according to Interpol reports.