Police in London declared the reported explosion on a London subway train a ‘terrorist incident.’ It’s unclear if an actual explosion injured anyone, but at least one witness says some people may have been trampled. (Sept. 15)

LONDON — An improvised explosive device set off a small fire on a rush-hour train at a London subway station injuring at least 18 people Friday, one seriously, in an attack British officials and police called a terrorist attack.

The incident happened shortly after 8 a.m. local time, when London’s Underground system is crowded with commuters and children going to school. Most of the injuries were flash burns, London’s Metropolitan Police said.  

Social media users quickly circulated an image that appeared to show a small bag or bucket on fire inside a train at the Parsons Green station in west London. The image does not show much damage to the train, but eyewitnesses described scenes of panic and chaos as passengers fled the area. Some were injured in the stampede. 

“To the man (who) pulled me out of the pile of people on the stairs during the stampede at Parsons Green — thank you,” Katherine Manson said on Twitter.

Sophie Raworth, a BBC News presenter at the scene, said she saw a woman lying on a stretcher with burns to her face and legs, according to the broadcaster. Other passengers said they saw a wall of fire flood through the train. 

Chris Wildish, who was on the subway train where the fire occurred, told British TV that he saw “a massive flash of flames” that reached up to the ceiling of the train and then the air was filled with the smell of chemicals. He said many of the passengers were schoolchildren, who were knocked around by people trying to get away from the fire.

The Underground’s District Line was suspended due to the security alert and the London Ambulance Service sent a hazard team to the area. Police said they would provide more details about the incident once they were confirmed. 

London has been repeatedly struck by extremist attacks this year including vehicle attacks near Parliament, on London Bridge and near a mosque in Finsbury Park. Britain’s terrorist attack level stands at severe, meaning attacks are highly likely.

Still, Friday’s incident was a potentially lucky escape. Police said the improvised explosive device only partially detonated, likely limiting injuries and saving lives. 

“My thoughts are with those injured at Parsons Green and emergency services who are responding bravely to this terrorist incident,” Prime Minister Theresa May said. 

May will chair a meeting of the government’s COBRA emergency committee that will also be attended by Mayor Sadiq Khan, who said the city “utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life.”

In a briefing, the Metropolitan Police did not release any information about suspects and there were no immediate claims of responsibility.

However, President Trump quickly suggested the attack may have been preventable. 

“Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!” he tweeted. 

It was not clear what Trump’s assessment of the situation was based on. 

“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 added. 

More: Why Europe has a greater terror problem than the United States


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