Tuesday 21 November 2017

'Significant arrest' in London Tube bombing probe: Teenager arrested at Dover port

Armed police officers at Parsons Green tube station in London, after yesterday’s blast Photo: Kevin Coombs
Armed police officers at Parsons Green tube station in London, after yesterday’s blast Photo: Kevin Coombs

A teenager has been arrested by detectives hunting the London Parsons Green bomber in a development hailed as "significant" to the terror investigation.

The 18-year-old man was detained on suspicion of being a terrorist by Kent Police in Dover on Saturday morning, Scotland Yard said.

Despite the arrest, 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.

One of the 29 passengers injured in the blast. Photo: Kevin Coombs
One of the 29 passengers injured in the blast. Photo: Kevin Coombs

His capture took place in the port area of the city, 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.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said: "We have made a significant arrest in our investigation this morning. Although we are pleased with the progress made, this investigation continues and the threat level remains at critical.

"The public should remain vigilant as our staff, officers and partners continue to work through this complex investigation. We are not, at this time, changing our protective security measures and the steps taken to free up extra armed officers remain in place.

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

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 on Saturday.

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.

The force said it has spoken to 45 witnesses and 77 images and videos have been sent to detectives by members of the public.

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.

More to follow

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