Saturday 21 September 2019

Oxford Street 'attack that never was'

Armed police officers mix with shoppers in an Oxford Street store, in London, Britain November 24, 2017. Photo: Reuters
Armed police officers mix with shoppers in an Oxford Street store, in London, Britain November 24, 2017. Photo: Reuters

Robert Mendick in London

For a heart-stopping hour, it appeared a nation's collective worst fears had come true.

On Black Friday, on Britain's best-known and busiest street, packed with Christmas shoppers, commuters and school children, it seemed terrorists had struck. At 4.37pm, hordes of people on London's Oxford Street were convinced they heard gunfire and explosions.

It was a false alarm, but whatever they heard prompted a stampede for cover. Shoppers ran for their lives, certain they were under attack.

Metropolitan Police received "numerous 999 calls within a short space of time", triggering an anti-terrorism emergency response. British Transport Police received a report of shots being fired on the platform at Oxford Circus Underground station.

But an hour after the first ­report, Scotland Yard said police 'had not located any trace of any suspects, evidence of shots fired or causalities'.

Irish Independent

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