Police arrest suspect linked to Parsons Green tube attack | News | DW | 16.09.2017
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Police arrest suspect linked to Parsons Green tube attack

British authorities have arrested an 18-year-old over the Friday bomb attack on a London underground train at Parsons Green. Police said they were "keeping an open mind" about looking for more suspects.

An 18-year-old man was detained Saturday morning as part of an urgent manhunt for suspects connected to Friday's bomb attack on a London underground train at Parsons Green tube station

The man was arrested in the port area of Dover in the southern county of Kent, indicating that the suspect may have been trying to flee the country. The police said a number of items were recovered during the arrest.

"We have made a significant arrest in our investigation this morning," said Neil Basu, Senior National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing. "Although we are pleased with the progress made, this investigation continues and the threat level remains at critical." 

Police then raided an address in Surrey in the south of England on Saturday afternoon in connection with the attack.

British police said in a statement that nearby residents were being evacuated as a precautionary measure. The raid took place in Sunbury, about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Heathrow airport.

"We're keeping an open mind around whether more than one person is responsible for the attack," Basu said.

Threat level 'critical'

Following Friday's attack, UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the government would raise the country's terror threat level from severe to the highest possible level of critical, which means a further attack was expected imminently.

The so-called "Islamic State" (IS) has claimed responsibility for the attack, which injured 30 people during Friday's morning rush hour. London anti-terrorism police chief Mark Rowley said it was "very routine" for IS to claim responsibility for the attack, regardless of whether the group had any prior engagement with the attacker.

"This arrest will lead to more activity from our officers," said a statement from police. "For strong investigative reasons we will not give any more details on the man we arrested at this stage."

The detained suspect will later be transferred to London from Kent, where he currently remains in custody. The investigation remains ongoing.

UK launches Operation Temperer

The prime minister also announced that military personnel would be taking over guard at certain "protected sites" to free up some 1,000 police officers to be deployed on transport networks across Britain.

The deployment of armed forces on Britain's streets is part of the government's Operation Temperer, which was launched in the wake of the November 2015 Paris attacks and first activated following the Manchester Arena attack on May 23.

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

London tube attack at Parsons Green (Reuters/S. Pennec)

The improvised device that detonated at Parsons Green was hidden inside a plastic bucket and a supermarket freezer bag,

Thirty wounded in tube attack

Thirty people were wounded following the blast in a crowded tube car, mostly with burns. However, an eyewitness told DW that many of the other injuries resulted from a stampede that followed as passengers frantically tried to rush out of the station. 

The injury toll was revised upwards from 29 on Saturday morning.

According to counterterrorism, the improvised device, which was hidden inside a plastic bucket and a supermarket freezer bag, appeared to have malfunctioned, averting a larger catastrophe.

"They were really lucky with this one, it could have really become much worse," said terrorism analyst Magnus Ranstorp of the Swedish Defense University. "It seems that this was hastily put together. Probably not very well mixed together."

Trump's comments unhelpful

US President Donald Trump used the attack to call for stronger action against terrorists.

"These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!" he wrote on Twitter.

"Loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner. The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off & use better," he said.

In reference to Trump's statements Prime Minister May said: "I never think it's helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation."

aw, dm/rg (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)

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