New London bombings. Tony Blair to speak at 10am EST. [1025amEST. Still waiting. Scroll down for rolling updates]
South London reports:
Terrified Tube passengers were evacuated from trains as police dealt with “incidents” at three different London Underground stations.
Emergency services were also called to a bus in east London amid reports there was a device on board.
Passengers evacuated from Warren Street Tube station reported seeing smoke in the carriages.
There were also unconfirmed reports of an explosion. One person is reported to have been injured at Warren Street.
It is two weeks to the day since the London bombings, when three suicide bombers detonated bombs on Tube trains in the capital and a fourth blew himself up on a bus.
A British Transport Police spokeswoman said Warren Street, Shepherds Bush and Oval stations had all been evacuated. She said the incidents were “ongoing”.
The Counterterrorism Blog has tons of links:
Reuters: “London fire brigade said smoke was seen coming from one train and there were also reports of a minor explosion on a bus in the Hackney area of east London. Its windows were blown out.” Fox News: London Police confirm four explosions – Sky News reports Scotland Yard says “no trace of chemical agents” at one station. BBC website: “Minor explosions using detonators only have sparked the evacuation of three Tube stations and the closure of three lines, a BBC correspondent has said. BBC’s Andrew Winstanley said devices had been found but appeared to have been dummies, containing no explosives.” Sky News site and Fox News TV: Bus explosion reported – subway lines closing – sounds of possible detonations and a backpack explosion at Warren Street staion – Police report one injury there – no injuries on bus after explosion. Fox News talking with Reuters reporter: No reports of horrific injuries yet as on July 7. Reuters per Sky News: Hospital near station cordoned off and people in area told to turn off phones in case of unexploded bombs. AFP update: “One person has received an injury at Warren Street,” British Transport Police spokesman said Thursday. “We cannot confirm what the injury is, how it was received or how serious it is,” he said. “We are still waiting for more information.” BBC has running chronology of today’s incidents.
Nail bomb reportedly exploded on one of the Tube trains?
Terrorism Unveiled examines the methods of the latest attacks and is monitoring al Qaeda message boards.
President Bush has been briefed:
President Bush was briefed by senior aides Thursday on the evacuation of three London subway stations two weeks to the day after mass transit attacks there killed 56 people including four suicide bombers.
“We’re monitoring the situation closely,” White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.
He said Bush was briefed on the London developments by White House chief of staff Andy Card and Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, at the end of the president’s regular intelligence briefing.
At the Department of Homeland Security, Secretary Michael Chertoff was described as closely monitoring events. But spokeswoman Kathleen Montgomery said that Chertoff had no immediate plans to raise the U.S. terror alert beyond current levels.
Witness: “There was mass panic.” More from witness Ian Mc Cracken:
“I was in a middle carriage and the train was not far short of Warren Street station when suddenly the door between my carriage and the next one burst open and dozens of people started rushing through. Some were falling, there was mass panic.
“It was difficult to get the story from any of them what had happened but when I got to ground level there was an Italian young man comforting an Italian girl who told me he had seen what had happened.
“He said that a man was carrying a rucksack and the rucksack suddenly exploded. It was a minor explosion but enough to blow open the rucksack.
“The man then made an exclamation as if something had gone wrong. At that point everyone rushed from the carriage.” Mr McCracken said he smelled smoke but did not see any injured passengers.
If this witness account is accurate, it undermines the theorizing that the perpetrators are “dupes.” “Amateurs?” Maybe. “Dupes?” Doesn’t look like it.
Jonah Goldberg, in London, reports: Armed officers. Confirmed at University College Hospital. Apparently they’re chasing a male, black, with wires protruding from sort of device.
1020am. Fox News, cutting to Sky News, shows disheveled man being escorted at 10 Downing Street. No indication he was connected to incident today.
Tim Worstall reports from the UK.
1040am EST. Tony Blair: We can’t minimize incidents such as this…fortunately, appear to be no casualties. These things are done to frighten people…I think we just have to react calmly…back to business as usual. We hope to get the transport system back up and running…thanks Australian Prime Minister John Howard for sympathy and solidarity.
John Howard speaks: Terrorism is about the perverted use of an ideology for evil intent…the determination of the British people to continue their daily lives is one of their great characteristics…the terrorists want otherwise…the best answer to terrorism is to carry on unperturbed…
Blair seemed shaken to me, Howard much more poised.
Q&A Blair much better: “We act with great dignity and great strength and great determination. To react any other way is to engage in the game they want us to engage in.”
Howard responds to moonbat reporter hounding about Iraq. Reminds reporter that the Bali bombings occurred before operations in Iraq, 9/11 attacks occurred before Iraq, murder of
Australian Brazilian diplomat Sergio di Mello (related to al Qaeda’s anger over East Timor) before Iraq.
Blair reiterates Howard’s point.
James Robbins has a new piece up at NRO on the terrorists’ M.O: Fear Factor.
1110amEST. US Embassy is temporarily closing.
Reuters’ security analysis:
The explosions on London’s transport system on Thursday look like an attempted carbon-copy of four attacks that killed 56 people two weeks ago and may be masterminded by the same group, security analysts said.
They put forward two main scenarios behind the latest blasts, which were much smaller than the previous ones, and appeared to have caused no fatalities.
The first, more benign explanation, was that the attacks were carried out by “imitative amateurs” intent on mounting a copycat strike by targeting three underground trains and a bus across the city, as in the earlier bombings.
The second, more worrying, was that the same group behind the suspected al Qaeda-linked attacks on July 7 had struck again, albeit with far less devastating effect.
That would show that, far from exhausting its strike potential, the group was capable of causing fresh havoc despite heightened security precautions in the British capital and a high state of alert in both the police and general public.
It also would show that the group could readily mobilise fresh operatives — perhaps even would-be suicide bombers — to follow the example of the four bombers who blew themselves up two weeks earlier.
“The more we know about the bomb attack two weeks ago, the more skilful it looks, well planned — the people behind it know what they’re doing,” said Michael Clarke, security expert at King’s College London.
1125am EST. Sky News reports that police are again being called back to University College Hospital. Analyst: This incident is not over. We’re in the middle of the crime. Anchor asks: Then why did Tony Blair speak with finality as if the incident was over? Analyst: It was surprising…
George Miller at London Calling writes:
The response to the latest bombings (or attempted bombings) in my office at the edge of The City, staffed as it is by caring, sharing types who work for the voluntary sector, is suprisingly impatient with the softly, softly approach of the British government. Someone just called Ken Livingstone a “wanker” and another asked why not one hate-preacher has yet to be deported.
Hopefully, this will turn out to be a non-lethal attack. But I don’t think it will be possible to pretend after today that there is no economic price to be paid for this mayhem. In the last attack, the stock market rose. As the truth sinks in that this will be a long and messy war, now also fought on the home front, the reaction of the markets will probably be more gloomy. The London Underground is the circulatory system of this city. Disrupting it for more than a few hours every week, will hurt.
SondraK has started a new ribbon campaign.