Terror strikes London again
London, July 21
Immediately after the explosions at Oval, Shepherd’s Bush and Warren Street subway stations and a bus on Hackney Road in east London, the British Capital was put on high alert. All the affected underground stations were evacuated and emergency services swung into action.
One person, who was in mid-twenties and appeared to be of Asian or West Asian origin, was picked up by the police from the Downing Street area.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was briefed about the explosions by London police chief Sir Ian Blair, told newsmen that four explosions had rocked London but “fortunately there was no casualty.
Terming the incidents as “serious”, Mr Blair said: “You can’t minimise incidents such as these.”
“What I would like to say is this that we know why these things are done, they are done to scare people and to frighten them and to make them anxious and worried,” he told a joint news conference with visiting Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
The British Premier chaired a meeting of the Cobra committee set up after the July 7 London bombings that left at least 56 persons dead.
A number of tube stations were evacuated and lines closed after the minor blasts which involved detonators only, the BBC reported.
Sir Ian Blair described the attacks as “four attempts at causing serious explosions”.
“The situation is absolutely under control in as good a position as we could possibly be given the fact that we have had these four attempts at causing serious explosions in London,” he said.
He said only three tube lines were still suspended and it was time London started to return to normal.
Armed officers have also been sent to the University College Hospital to search for a man wearing a blue shirt with with wires, Sky News television reported.
A memo had been circulated to staff to look out for a 6ft 2inch black or Asian man with wires sticking out of his top, it said.
The hospital has not received any casualties or been alerted to casualties.
Eyewitnesses heard bangs and saw abandoned rucksacks at the sites of the incidents at Warren Street, Shepherd’s Bush Hammersmith and City line and Oval tube stations as well as the number 26 bus.
At Warren Street and Oval a man was seen running away from the scene, the BBC said, adding that large areas around all four sites were cordoned off.
One person was injured at Warren Street, it said, adding that there were reports the injured person may have been holding a rucksack containing the detonator.
Sir Ian Blair said the bombs “appear to be smaller than on the last occasion but we don’t know the implications of all this yet.”
The whole of the Northern Line had been suspended, along with the Victoria Line, the Hammersmith and City line, Piccadilly and the Bakerloo line.
A number of other stations were closed including Great Portland Street, Westminster, Waterloo, St Paul’s and Oxford Circus tube stations, as well as Waterloo tube station and King’s Cross Thames link.
A spokesman for Stagecoach said the driver of the number 26 bus travelling through Shoreditch had heard a bang on the upper deck, gone upstairs and seen the windows were blown out.
The bus driver was very shaken but said to be fine, the BBC said.
At Shepherd’s Bush Hammersmith and City line station, the police told reporters that a man had threatened to blow himself up and then ran off.
Sosiane Mohellavi (35) was travelling from Oxford Circus to Walthamstow when she was evacuated from a train at Warren Street.
“I was in the carriage and we smelt smoke - it was like something was burning. Everyone was panicked and people were screaming. We had to pull the alarm. I am still shaking,” she was quoted as saying. — PTI