Police officers stand behind cordon tape near a property that was searched after an explosion on a London Underground train, in Sunbury-on-Thames September 16, 2017. — Reuters picLONDON, Sept 16 — British police raided a home near London today just hours after making their first arrest in the investigation into the bombing of an Underground train a day earlier.
An 18-year-old man was detained at the port city of Dover, one of the country’s main links to Europe, with officers describing the development as a significant step in their investigation.
“Police officers have evacuated and are searching a residential address in Sunbury, Surrey,” a statement said.
Thirty people were treated in hospital after the bomb was detonated in a packed train carriage on yesterday morning, in what was UK’s fifth terror attack in six months.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said today that police had made “very good progress” in their enquiries, while appearing to dispute claims by US President Donald Trump that a “loser terrorist” behind the attack was known to Scotland Yard.
“It’s much too early to say that,” Rudd said in a televised interview. “At the moment we have one arrest and we have an ongoing operation.”
Trump’s claims, made yesterday on Twitter, had already garnered a terse rebuke from Prime Minister Theresa May, who said: “I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation.”
The improvised explosive device in a train at Parsons Green station, a quiet and wealthy residential district, failed to detonate fully, according to media reports.
But the blast inflicted flash burns on passengers, and prompted dozens of others to flee in panic.
Police in Dover said the teenager arrested today would be transferred to custody in London.
“This arrest will lead to more activity from our officers,” said a statement, outlining that the man was being held under anti-terror legislation.
Yesterday’s incident, which has been claimed by the Islamic State group, led the authorities to raise UK’s terror threat level to critical — meaning another attack could be imminent.
British premier May had announced late yesterday that troops — 1,000 were deployed — would take on responsibility for guarding key sites, including nuclear facilities, to free up police.
In a statement, anti-terrorism chief Mark Rowley said officers were “chasing down suspects”.
“Somebody has planted this improvised explosive device on the Tube. We have to be open-minded at this stage about him and potential associates,” he said.
The critical alert terror warning was last used after the deadly suicide attack at Manchester Arena, also claimed by IS, in May.
Charlie Craven told AFP he heard a “massive bang” and “an orange sort of fireball encompassing the whole Tube coming towards you.”
Twitter user @Rrigs posted pictures of a white bucket smouldering on the train and described how a “fireball flew down carriage and we just jumped out open door”.
The bucket, which was inside a frozen food bag, looked like the type used by builders and there appeared to be cables coming from it.
The remnants of the bomb were examined by forensic scientists but no further details were released. British media reported that it had a timer which had failed to properly detonate.
Police said they would not release any more details on the man arrested at this stage because of “strong investigative reasons”.
Officers are being deployed across the transport network and on streets across the UK.
Several victims were taken to hospital, though health authorities said none were in a serious life-threatening condition.
Louis Hather, 21, had been travelling to work and was three carriages down from where the explosion took place.
He was trampled on as passengers stampeded out of the station and his leg was badly cut and bruised.
Four previous attacks in London and Manchester this year claimed the lives of 35 people.