Terrorist attacks on 3 London subways and one bus exactly 2 weeks after previous bombings
Witnesses report man dropping backpack and running away with wires protruding from his shirt
Explosions cause new London panic
Terrified Tube passengers were evacuated from trains today after a series of explosions caused panic on the network.
The driver of a bus also reported a small explosion as he drove through east London.
Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair told reporters at New Scotland Yard the incidents were "serious".
He said there appeared to have been a series of explosions or attempted explosions.
But he added: "The bombs appear to be smaller than on the last occasion."
The blasts occurred exactly two weeks after the London suicide bombings which left 56 people dead.
But there was only one reported injury immediately after today's incidents.
London Fire Brigade said: "As a precaution officers have been deployed at Warren Street London Underground station in full protective equipment in order to carry out an examination of the scene.
"The police have carried out an initial examination at Oval and early indications show that there is no trace of chemical agents. At this stage there are no reported casualties.
Screaming for someone to stop him'
LONDON - Staff at a central London hospital were told Thursday to look out for an Asian or black man with wires protruding from his shirt after witnesses reported seeing someone of that description fleeing an Underground station hit by a small blast, British TV reports said.
In a memo to staff at University College hospital, officers asked employees to look for a black or Asian male, 6 feet 2 inches tall, wearing a blue top with a hole in the back and wires protruding from it, Sky News reported.
The British Broadcasting Corp. broadcast a similar report. The hospital, which is near Warren Street station in central London, could not be reached for immediate comment.
Earlier, armed police rushed into the hospital, witnesses reported.
Eyewitnesses to two of the four explosions to hit this city's transportation system told of close calls with what could have been would-be bombers running away after dropping backpacks on subway trains.
"We all got off on the platform and the guy just ran and started running up the escalator," one witness who gave her name as Andrea told the British Broadcasting Corp.
"Everyone was screaming for someone to stop him. He ran past me ... and he ran out of the station. In fact he left a bag on the train," she said of the incident at Warren Street station in central London.
Another witness told Sky News that passengers tried to prevent the man from running away, but failed.
Sky News also reported witnesses seeing a man dump a backpack in a subway car at Oval station, south London, before fleeing as the doors closed.
Witness Ivan McCracken told Sky he smelled smoke and that panicked people rushed into his carriage.
"People were panicking. But very fortunately the train was only 15 seconds from the station," McCracken told Sky News.
Thursday's incidents, however, were more geographically spread out.
London Ambulance said it was called to the Oval station at 12:38 p.m. and Warren Street at 12:45 p.m. Explosions also went off at Shepherds Bush station in west London and on the No. 26 bus heading toward Hackney, east London. The July 7 attacks, which mostly occurred in central London, began at 8:51 a.m.
Closed-circuit TV cameras on Hackney Road showed the bus immobilized at a stop with its signal lights flashing. The area around the bus had been cordoned off.
A blast blew out the windows of the bus, but there were no reported injuries.
"The bus driver heard a bang at the back of the bus. He thought it was probably a vehicle that had hit him," an unnamed police officer told Reuters.
"He stopped at a nearby bus stop and saw a suspect package at the back of the bus," the officer said.
Services on four Underground lines were suspended following the incidents, London Underground said.
"I was in the carriage and we smelled smoke — it was like something was burning," said Losiane Mohellavi, 35, who was evacuated at Warren Street.
"Everyone was panicked and people were screaming. We had to pull the alarm. I am still shaking," Mohellavi said.
"We ask people to remain at work or home at this stage and await further information."
MIM: Note that the Police Commissioner refrained from calling the bombings a terrorist attack.
Statement from Metropolitan Police Commissioner
Here is a full transcript of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair's statement:
"We know that we have four explosions, four attempts at explosions, and it's still pretty unclear as to what's happened.
"There's certainly a scene at the Oval Underground station, there's a scene at Warren Street Underground station, there is a scene at Shepherd's Bush which is on the Underground but is actually above ground and there's a scene on a number 26 bus at Hackney near Columbia Road, which I believe is in Bethnal Green.
"At the moment the casualty numbers appear to be very low in the explosions. "The bombs appear to be smaller than on the last occasion.
"I don't know the implications of all this yet. We have to examine the scene very carefully.
"I have a couple of messages that I really need to give.
"The first is the transport system is going to close down for a short while, while we work out what's happened.
"It's very important that Londoners and people in London stay where they are. "The second announcement is we will make a further announcement about what the travel implications are.
"What we don't want is lots of people going to railway stations. The trains, as far as I know, are still running.
"It's just: 'Stay where you are, go about your normal business'.
"Again, the plan is there, you've seen it happen before, it's rehearsed.
"The emergency services are getting control over a very confused scene.
"Clearly, this is a very serious incident.
"What I'm doing now is I'm going off to Cobra (the Government emergency response committee) to meet the Home Secretary and others to see where we go from here.
Two arrests in London bomb attack
July 21, 2005LONDON -- British police have announced two arrests in connection with Thursday's bomb attacks in London. Police said the two men are being questioned. One was arrested near Downing Street, site of the prime minister's residence, and the other near Tottenham Court Road, which is near the Warren Street subway station where one of the incidents took place. Police Commissioner Ian Blair said earlier that forensic evidence collected from the crime scenes could provide a "significant break" in solving the case. Small explosions struck the London Underground and a bus at midday in a chilling but bloodless replay of the suicide bombings that killed 56 people two weeks ago. No one was injured in the coordinated lunch-hour blasts, which shocked and disrupted the capital. Blair said some of the bombs apparently didn't go off, but, "Clearly, the intention must have been to kill." He said Thursday's explosions were "pretty close to simultaneous," but that the bombs appeared to be smaller than the ones that exploded in the city exactly two weeks ago. The attacks on July 7 left 56 people dead. Blair also said initial checks have yielded no trace of chemical agents in two of those subway stations. The U.S. Embassy in central London has been closed to visitors because of the new assault on the transit system, but a spokeswoman said embassy staff members were still working. British television showed footage of the double-decker bus parked by the side of the road. In the footage, nobody was on board the bus or nearby -- and the streets appear to have been cordoned off. The company that operates the bus said the driver heard a bang and went upstairs -- where he found the windows blown out. The company said the bus was otherwise intact, and that it had no reports of injuries. Police said they're not treating it as a "major incident" on the level of the bus and subway attacks that killed more than 50 people two weeks ago. But the Warren Street, Shepherd's Bush and Oval stations have been evacuated.
Prime Minister Appeals For CalmBritish Prime Minister Tony Blair appealed for calm Thursday in the aftermath of the explosions. He said he's going to resume his regular schedule because it's important to live as "normal" a life as possible. He said "we can't minimize incidents such as this" -- but added that those responsible for the blasts are trying to scare people and make them worried. However, the explosions sent a new ripple of fear throughout Britain. "This is something London has to get used to," a 19-year-old man said. And a 35-year-old woman said, "I am still shaking." One man said his train was only 15 seconds from the station when he began smelling smoke. He said people began coming into his carriage. The witness said another passenger told him a backpack had exploded. He said it was a minor blast -- but enough to rip open the bag. Another witness said he was on the way to a job interview when he began smelling smoke while traveling the Underground. The man said he was evacuated at the Warren Street Station. He said he didn't see smoke -- but smelled something similar to an electrical fire. He said people began to scream and pulled the train's alarm. Police cordoned off streets, and officers with sniffer dogs are checking the areas. One woman who was evacuated from a subway station said she was on one of the trains -- and smelled smoke. She said, "It was like something was burning." The woman said, "Everyone was panicked and people were screaming. We had to pull the alarm." There's also a report that police are looking for someone at a London hospital in connection with the incidents. An armed police unit has entered University College hospital. A British news agency said they arrived shortly after an injured person was brought in. And Sky TV said police are looking for a man who was seen with wires protruding from his shirt. Although nobody was killed in Thursday's London explosions, some residents said they're plenty jittery. One man said the blasts were "a replay" of two weeks ago, when 56 people were killed -- including four suicide bombers. "Everyone I know is buying bicycles now," he said. Another man said he won't be taking the subway or bus to work Friday. Traffic was backed up in the city in the aftermath of the blasts, with some underground train stations closed and offices evacuated. Cell phone companies reported a surge in traffic, though not as big as two weeks ago. They urged customers to keep calls brief or use text messages instead.
Bush Briefed On London ExplosionsMeanwhile, a White House spokesman said President George W. Bush has been briefed on the latest incidents in London's subway system. Scott McClellan said officials are "monitoring the situation closely." He said the president was briefed by White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and national security adviser Stephen Hadley at the end of his regular intelligence briefing. The Department of Homeland Security said Secretary Michael Chertoff is closely monitoring events in London, but a spokeswoman for the federal agency said Chertoff has no immediate plans to raise the U.S. terror alert. U.S. mass transit systems have remained on Code Orange -- or high alert -- since the London bombings two weeks ago, but the rest of the country is at yellow, signifying an elevated risk. In a speech that focused on trade, the president didn't specifically mention the latest incidents in London, but Bush said terror attacks won't shake the will of the free world. He said terrorists just don't understand that "when it comes to the defense of universal freedoms, this country won't be frightened." He called terrorists "cold-blooded killers who embrace an ideology of hatred." He said their attacks are designed to "create vacuums" into which their ideology can move.
Man Escorted Away From Downing StreetPolice in London escorted a man away from Downing Street, which is where the British prime minister lives and works. A police officer near the end of the street drew a firearm and aimed it at a target beyond the range of television cameras. Another officer then led away a man dressed in a black shirt and pants.
Pakistani Suspect Reportedly Had Links To London BombersPolice in Pakistan have made what they call an important arrest in the search for the mastermind behind the London bombing attacks two weeks ago Thursday. Pakistan, cooperating with British investigators, used a list of telephone numbers to determine who might have had contact with the suspected suicide bombers. London newspapers identify the suspect arrested in Pakistan as Haroon Rashid Aswat. He reportedly visited the British hometowns of all four bombers and selected the targets. Prime Minister Blair is holding an intelligence and security review Thursday as the government considers asking for new powers to prevent more attacks. It's already working on new anti-terror measures, including making it a crime to visit a terrorist training camp or glorify an act of violence. Previous Stories: