Monday 25 September 2017

Armed police evacuate homes in counter-terror operation

Armed police officers and a soldier on duty at the entrance to Horse Guards in Whitehall, central London, as Operation Temperer is enacted after security experts warned another terrorist attack could be imminent Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Armed police officers and a soldier on duty at the entrance to Horse Guards in Whitehall, central London, as Operation Temperer is enacted after security experts warned another terrorist attack could be imminent Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Press Association reporters

An armed police operation is under way by counter-terror officers investigating the Parsons Green bombing.

A house is being searched and residents close to the address in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey, are being evacuated, Scotland Yard said.

The raid comes after the arrest of an 18-year-old man in Dover earlier on Saturday who is understood to be the suspected bomber.

The evacuation in Sunbury began at 1.40pm following the arrest at 7.50am. Scotland Yard said it was "a precautionary measure following the arrest of a man in Dover". A 100-metre cordon is in place.

Speaking after a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the arrest was "very significant", but added: "The operation is ongoing."

She indicated that the suspected bomber was male, saying "we will have to make sure to take all steps that we can to ensure the sort of materials that this man was able to collect".

Investigators - who it is understood are linking the attack to Islamist extremism - are continuing their probe and the threat level remains at critical, which means a further attack is feared to be imminent.

The country's top counter-terrorism officer indicated that a potential network of plotters could have been involved.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said police were "chasing down suspects", while suggestions were made by Donald Trump that the bomber was known to Scotland Yard.

Police declined to say where the suspect was from, whether he was the suspected bomber or the precise details of the offence for which he was arrested.

His capture took place in the port area of Dover, which is the busiest ferry hub in Europe and serves as a commercial gateway to the French coast, including Calais and Dunkirk.

A key strand of the investigation has focused on CCTV as officers comb through footage to establish who planted the device, and when and where it was placed on the train.

Security minister Ben Wallace suggested CCTV images of the bomber could be released as part of the manhunt for those responsible, but Scotland Yard subsequently denied there were any plans to do so.

The suspect is expected to be moved to a south London police station.

A vast manhunt was launched after an improvised device partially exploded on a District Line train at Parsons Green station during the Friday morning rush hour, injuring 30.

Three victims remain in hospital, NHS England said.

Troops have been dispatched to key sites across the country to free up armed police officers after the country's terror threat level was raised to its highest point.

Friday's device reportedly contained the explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP) and nails, but is thought to have only partially detonated from inside a bucket.

Parsons Green station was reopened in the early hours of Saturday.

There were fears the number of those hurt could have been much higher - with the real potential for life-threatening injuries - had the bomb, which was concealed within a supermarket carrier bag, fully exploded.

It is not yet known whether the bomb, which was reportedly fixed with a timer, went off at its intended target.

The train - bound for Edgware Road - was just pulling into the station in south-west London when the device detonated in the rear carriage, sending passengers fleeing to safety.

Mojgan Jamali, who lives in Cavendish Road, Sunbury-on-Thames, said she was told by police she had "one minute" to pack her bags, grab her children, and leave her home as police carried out urgent evacuations.

The mother-of-three told the Press Association: "I was in my house with my children and there was a knock at the door from the police.

"They told me to leave. They said: 'You have one minute to get out of the house and get away.'

"I just got out, I got my three children and we left the house and the street.

"We didn't know what was going on. There was a lot of rumours going on, a lot of stories, people saying this and that, but we didn't know.

"Earlier the police came around and asked if we could look after another family in our home for a little while, which I was obviously happy to do.

"But then they came back later and just said we had one minute."

Mrs Jamali, 33, said she did not know where to go, so decided to take her children - aged between five and 10 - to the shops.

She said: "I had to do something to keep them entertained and to keep their minds off it - it's obviously pretty scary. I'm trying to keep them calm.

"But I know two people on this street who don't have a car and they don't have a phone to contact their relatives.

"I hope this gets settled soon, that we can get back to normal."

She added: "I only had to open the door and I saw police everywhere."

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