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Teenager held over Parsons Green bombing in ‘significant’ development

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A TEENAGER has been arrested by detectives hunting the Parsons Green bomber in a development hailed as “significant” to the terror investigation.

The 18-year-old man was detained on suspicion of a terror offence by Kent Police in Dover on Saturday morning, Scotland Yard said.

His capture took place in the port area of the city, which is the busiest ferry hub in Europe and serves as a commercial gateway to the French coast, including Calais and Dunkirk.

The suspect is expected to be moved to a south London police station.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said: “We have made a significant arrest in our investigation this morning. Although we are pleased with the progress made, this investigation continues and the threat level remains at critical.

“The public should remain vigilant as our staff, officers and partners continue to work through this complex investigation. We are not, at this time, changing our protective security measures and the steps taken to free up extra armed officers remain in place.

“This arrest will lead to more activity from our officers. For strong investigative reasons we will not give any more details on the man we arrested at this stage.”

PA Graphics
(PA Graphics)

Although police said it was significant, the Met later added they would not be releasing where the suspect was from, whether he was the suspected bomber or the precise details of the offence for which he was arrested.

A vast manhunt was launched after an improvised device partially exploded on a District Line train at Parsons Green station during the Friday morning rush hour, injuring 30.

Three victims remain in hospital, NHS England said on Saturday.

The country’s top counter-terrorism officer indicated that a potential network of plotters could have been involved.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley. (Tim Ireland/PA)
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley. (Tim Ireland/PA)

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said police were “chasing down suspects”, while suggestions were made by Donald Trump that the bomber was known to Scotland Yard.

Troops have been dispatched to key sites across the country to free up armed police officers after the country’s terror threat level was raised to its highest point.

The Prime Minister announced that the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre had escalated the status in the wake of the attack.

A police forensic tent next to the train. (AP)
A police forensic tent next to the train. (AP)

It was the second time this year the country was placed at “critical”, meaning an attack “may be imminent”, Theresa May said – the other occasion being the Manchester Arena bombing which killed 22 people in May.

A renewed appeal for information was put out by the Met, asking anyone with information to call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 or 999 in an emergency.

The force said it has spoken to 45 witnesses and 77 images and videos have been sent to detectives by members of the public.

Friday’s device reportedly contained the explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP) and nails, but is thought to have only partially detonated from inside a bucket.

Parsons Green station was reopened in the early hours of Saturday.

Passengers pass a police officer at the entrance to Parsons Green station. (PA)
Passengers pass a police officer at the entrance to Parsons Green station. (PA)

There were fears the number of those hurt could have been much higher – with the real potential for life-threatening injuries – had the bomb, which was concealed within a supermarket carrier bag, fully exploded.

It is not yet known whether the bomb, which was reportedly fixed with a timer, went off at its intended target.

The train – bound for Edgware Road – was just pulling into the station in south-west London when the device detonated in the rear carriage, sending passengers fleeing to safety.

PA Graphics
(PA Graphics)

Security minister Ben Wallace suggested CCTV images of the bomber could be released as part of the manhunt for those responsible, but Scotland Yard subsequently denied there were any plans to do so.

S7 trains such as the one involved in Friday’s incident have video cameras installed inside all seven carriages and there are more than 12,000 cameras across London Underground’s stations and trains.

Robin Smith, assistant chief constable of British Transport Police, said his officers were helping to trawl through the images.

He said: “British Transport Police obviously has a great deal of specialism and expertise in looking at how people move around the stations, how people exit and leave the stations and of course we have got a wide network of CCTV cameras. That’s how we really make our impact felt.”