At least 22 people were injured when an explosion jolted a London Tube train carriage during the morning rush hour on Friday. Neil Basu, Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner and the senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing, said it was a terrorist incident.
The London Ambulance Service said that all 22 people were hospitalised after the blast at 8.20 am at the Parsons Green station on District Line in southwest London. It added that none of the injured were believed to be in serious condition.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said a suspected Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was thought to be responsible for the blast. A timer was attached to the explosive device.
Downing Street announced that Prime Minister Theresa May would be presiding over a Cobra emergency committee meeting to discuss the incident. The country's threat level currently stands at ‘severe’, the second-highest behind ‘critical’.
She said that the attack intended to cause 'significant harm'
"My thoughts are with those injured at Parsons Green and emergency services who are responding bravely to this terrorist incident," Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted.
Passengers reported seeing a device on the train and hearing a bang during the morning rush hour. Witnesses described seeing at least one passenger with facial injuries. Others spoke of panic as stunned passengers rushed out of the train. Pictures on social media showed a white bucket on fire inside a supermarket bag but did not appear to show extensive damage to the inside of the train carriage.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan appealed for calm, saying the city will never be intimidated or defeated by terrorism. He said a manhunt was underway following the explosion. "The person or people responsible for this attack will be caught," he said.
Train services between Earl's Court and Wimbledon on the District Line were immediately suspended.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump urged the British police to be "pro-active" in tackling terrorism.
"Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be pro-active. Loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner. The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off and use better," he said in a series of tweets.
London has been targeted by attackers several times this year, with deadly vehicle attacks near Parliament, on London Bridge and near a mosque in Finsbury Park in north London. Beyond the capital, a May 22 suicide bomb attack at Manchester Arena killed 22 people.
The London Underground itself has been targeted several times in the past, notably in July 2005, when suicide bombers blew themselves up on three subway trains and a bus, killing 52 people and themselves. Four more bombers tried a similar attack two weeks later, but their devices failed to fully explode.
Last year Damon Smith, a student with an interest in weapons and Islamic extremism, left a knapsack filled with explosives and ball bearings on a London subway train. It failed to explode.