U.K. Police Arrest Second Suspect in Blast; Threat Level Cut

  • Two unidentified man being held under Terrorism Act: police
  • Terrorism threat level lowered to severe, second highest

Police officers at the entrance to Parsons Green station in west London on Sept. 16.

Photographer: Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images

The U.K. arrested a second suspect in connection with the blast on a commuter train as London’s counter-terrorism police widened their investigation into the attack that injured at least 30 people. After the arrests, the U.K. on Sunday lowered the terrorism threat level to severe from critical.

Police arrested a 21-year-old man in Hounslow, southwest London, late Saturday, according to a statement. He was being held under the U.K. Terrorism Act in a south London police station. An 18-year-old man was arrested early Saturday in the departure area of the port at Dover, the main ferry link between the U.K. and France that saw over 12 million passengers in 2016.

Prior to the second arrest, officers had evacuated residents in a section of Sunbury-on-Thames in Surrey, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) southwest of London, as they searched a home as “a precautionary measure” after the arrest, Metropolitan Police said. A search is also being conducted of a home in where the second man was arrested, police said.

“There are now two searches continuing at addresses in Hounslow and Surrey and we are getting a greater understanding of the preparation of the device,” Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, head of counter terrorism policing, said in a statement.

Police officers stand guard on Cavendish Road in Sunbury on Sept. 16.

Photographer: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Police have identified 121 witnesses to the attack at the Parsons Green station on Friday and spoken to 100 of them already. Officers continue to trawl through hours of closed-circuit television footage and videos and photographs sent by members of the public, said Neil Basu, the Metropolitan Police’s senior national coordinator for counter terrorism policy,

‘Significant’ Arrest

It’s too early to reach any conclusions in the case, and police are working hard to learn more details about the suspect following a series of attacks in the country, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said on the BBC’s “Andrew Marr Show” on Sunday.

“This has been a year like no other,’’ she said. On Saturday, she said the arrest in Dover was “significant.”

The U.K. terror threat level was raised on Friday to the highest level, signaling further attacks were imminent. The level was lowered on Sunday, suggesting an attack is highly likely, Rowley said.

Troops were deployed as part of an operation to free up some 1,000 armed police so they can protect transport hubs and events. Those troops will be phased out over the coming week, he said.

Emergency services attend Parsons Green Station, in London, Sept. 15.

Photographer: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

The attack is the fifth this year in the U.K. and Londoners are growing accustomed to the sight of armed police patrolling the transport network. Police said on Thursday that terrorism-related arrests had risen 68 percent over the past year.

Earlier this year assailants with vans and knives attacked passers by on Westminster Bridge and London Bridge in two separate strikes, and a van was driven into worshippers outside a mosque in Finsbury Park. A suicide bomber attacked a concert venue in Manchester in May, killing more than 20 people including children and mothers. The terror threat level was raised to critical after that attack and lowered four days later to severe, meaning an attack is considered highly likely but not imminent.

Most of the attacks have been claimed or praised by the jihadist group Islamic State. On Friday, the Amaq news outlet said the London explosion had been carried out by a “group following the Islamic State.”

— With assistance by Chris Kingdon, Joe Easton, Thomas Seal, and Tim Ross

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