New ‘Incidents’ in London

The press and TV stations are begining to report a series of new incidents on the London underground. I use the word ‘incidents’ since things are so confused it is not clear what is happening. In one incident a rucksack apparently exploded, but the explosion was small. I will update as more info arrives.

On Thursday, the Warren Street, Shepherds Bush and Oval stations were evacuated. Emergency services personnel were called to the stations, police said.

“People were panicking. But very fortunately the train was only 15 seconds from the station,” witness Ivan McCracken told Sky news. McCracken said he smelled smoke at the Warren Street station, and people were panicking and coming into his carriage. He said he spoke to an Italian man who was comforting a woman after the evacuation.

“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,” McCracken said. “The man then made an exclamation as if something had gone wrong. At that point everyone rushed from the carriage.”

Update 15:16 CET

The situation is still very confused. It seems there were 4 incidents, 3 in the tube, and one bus. The tube stations were Oval, Warren Street and Shepherd’s Bush. The bus was in Hackney Road, on a junction near Colombia Road, this is east London. There is speculation that detonators and not the bombs themselves went off. The emergency services report the following:

We were called to Oval at 12:38 pm (1138 GMT) and sent three ambulance vehicles,” a spokesman said Thursday. “We were called to Warren Street at 12:45 pm (1145 GMT) and sent five vehicles. “We will shortly confirm details of the incident at Shepherd’s Bush. “At this time there are no reports of casualties at any of the scenes.”

I think you don’t need to be a genius to have imagined that after reports that Haroon Rashid Aswat had been arrested started circulating any remaining groups he might have set up would have been forced to act quickly.

Update 14:20 CET

Still thankfully no reports of anyone seriously injured. Massive police and security activity everywhere. And according to AP, at least one detention.

Police also said an armed police unit had entered University College hospital. Press Association, the British news agency, said they arrived shortly after an injured person was carried in.

On the blogging front, Robin at Perfect UK is covering developments from inside the UK.

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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

17 thoughts on “New ‘Incidents’ in London

  1. BBC says it was detonators only :

    The minor explosions – just two weeks after blasts killed 56 – involved detonators only, a BBC reporter said

    … what was this, a practice run that went wrong?

  2. “what was this, a practice run that went wrong?”

    Well obviously there are lots of possibilities, and I can think of at least two. One ‘security expert’ (what would you describe us as John?) is quoted as saying that it could be a copycat by another group. I’m not a ‘security expert’ but I doubt this. Another (I am sure there are more) is that it is the previously mentioned ‘second group’. People who were set up by Haroon Rashid Aswat when he was in the UK. The theory would then be that these people had to act quickly after his detention – the clock was ticking so to speak – and they were not up to ‘arming’ the devices for some reason, so what we had – thank god – were firecrackers with damp fuses.

    It’s not clear whether anyone was actually detained in the panic, there seems to have been something strange with a guy with wires protruding from his top at UC hospital. In any event there are several would-be bombers wandering round London at the moment.

    I think it already adds information on the suicide angle, since they do seem to have tried to blow themselves up, although one of them reportedly threw his rucksack into the train before the doors closed, so maybe he had second thoughts. Definitely looks more amateurish than the first, which re-inforces the ‘security expert’s’ theory.

    Same design though, three trains and a bus, and in more or less four corners, like the cross theory.

    Also *don’t miss* the fact that Haroon Rashid Aswat was reportedly associated with Al Masri when he lived in London, so that link seems to take us right back to the initial theory that the bombs were as much to do with his forthcoming trial as anything. Also, if I’m not mistaken, he comes from Egypt, which also comes back to the chemist’s detention (although the Egyptian police are saying he had nothing to do with it, and that it was just a strange coincidence that there were explosives in his bath. But then, they may be trying to ‘turn’ him, so who knows). Egypt also brings us back to the language used in the first claim as speculated by Juan Cole.

    The only thing that seems to be conspicuosly missing at this stage is any ‘Spanish connection’, still, just give it time.

  3. 4 bombs and none of them go off?

    And why would a test run constitute walking around with detanators that are armed?

    My gut is that this is a copycat by some very incompetent people. But it’s way too early.

  4. If none of the four bombs went off, that tends to suggest that the person in charge of arming the bombs was not competent (for which we can all be grateful).

  5. @ Rupert

    OK you go with the ‘security expert’, I’m sticking with my hypothesis for the moment.

    Incidentally, they have just (18:00 CET) reported that St Paul’s Cathedral has been sealed off, and a lot of police activity with a ‘suspicious package’.

    Also the arrest by armed police of someone in Downing Street. This also leads me in the direction of the same crew, since these are the types of attacks (if indeed they are of course) that the specialists were suggesting might be the next step, bombs in major public buildings, and attacks on prominet leaders. But, as you say, all of this looks very incompetent. But without a key leader, this could be a ‘headless chicken’ attack.

  6. @ Sebastian

    “If none of the four bombs went off, that tends to suggest that the person in charge of arming the bombs was not competent”

    Dead on. This definitely seems to be a different bombmaker, now why?

  7. OK, defintely not a practice run. Silly suggestion.

    Attempts were made to set off explosives at four locations, including three Tube stations and on one bus.

  8. And what’s with the Piccadilly line being suspended from Heathrow into central London? There’s more going on than we’re being told (but that’s normal).

  9. “There’s more going on than we’re being told (but that’s normal).”

    Yes, well I think this is fine and understandable, in the end people’s lives are at stake. But you have to imagine that some at least of the would-be bombers are on the loose, and they may be feeling desperate. If they were intending to blow themselves up they may not have had a plan b. So who knows where they are, or what they are doing. Their photos can be released in any moment. This is like an old Thomas (Not Tom) Wolf novel title: you can never go home again.

    In more general terms I think the UK administration is having to come to terms with the internet age. This really didn’t exist in the case of the IRA. With UK press they can stick what used to be called ‘D’ notices, but obviously means of communication elsewhere can speculate and release names, etc etc. This I think is a real problem for them. OBL will have his equivalent of Langley, and once a name breaks others will be warned. I think events in Egypt and Pakistan must have given particular problems. On the plus side, todays events should make the detective work inside the UK much easier.

  10. Dead on. This definitely seems to be a different bombmaker, now why?

    The simplest explanation is that this is another group at work.
    It seems quite unlikely that the attacks of 14 days earlier were executed by the only group of like minded people in Britain. It is much likelier that there are several which cannot dare to coordinate due to persecution. In this case detective work is made only marginally easier for get only one group of several.
    That would suggest that yesterday’s attacks were copies only in timing and exact targets and failed due to the rushed nature of the bombing.

  11. although the Egyptian police are saying he had nothing to do with it, and that it was just a strange coincidence that there were explosives in his bath. But then, they may be trying to ‘turn’ him, so who knows

    I can assure you that making a few explosives for fun is not that uncommon among students.

  12. If the four bombs used today were made up by the same bomber but AT THE SAME TIME HE MADE UP THE FIRST FOUR BOMBS, then it’s possible the ingredients deteriorated over the two week period and thus the bombs didn’t go off.

  13. Why assume that the attack failed? You know that there are four suicide bombers on the loose in London. Would you go on the tube tomorrow? The disruption produced by this failed bombrun is probably higher than the disruption created if the attack had succeeded.

  14. “If the four bombs used today were made up by the same bomber”

    This is one of the key issues, my guess is they weren’t, but you have a valid point if they were. I don’t know enough chemistry, and actually, in this context, I don’t want to. Both a little and a lot of knowledge are ‘dangerous things’.

    “Why assume that the attack failed?”

    Well, the reasoning behind this would be in the London incidents update post.

  15. “Poor construction, careless transportation or use of explosives that were past their ‘shelf life’ could explain why four bombs failed to explode properly on London’s transport network on Thursday, experts said.

    Yep, this is possible. The hiccup in Luton, or somehwere else, may have meant that had to use ‘old’ explosives.

  16. The hiccup in Luton, or somehwere else, may have meant that had to use ‘old’ explosives.

    And all fail in deployment? Sloppy work. They should have tested spares. And if they didn’t have spares, all the more sloppy work.

  17. And all fail in deployment? Sloppy work. They should have tested spares. And if they didn’t have spares, all the more sloppy work.

    Testing a bomb is hard to do surreptitiously. If it draws attention to you before you are ready to do the real thing, it wasn’t worth it.

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