A homemade bomb exploded on a packed rush-hour commuter train in London on Friday, injuring 29 people, police said, in what was being treated as the fifth terrorism attack in Britain this year.
Passengers on board a London Underground train heading into the centre of the capital fled as fire engulfed a carriage at Parsons Green station in west London after the explosion at 8.20am.
Some suffered burns while others were injured in a stampede to escape. The National Health Service said 29 people had been treated in London hospitals following the incident. None were thought to be in a serious condition, the ambulance service said.
“We now assess that this was a detonation of an improvised explosive device,” Britain’s top counter-terrorism officer Mark Rowley told reporters. He said most of the injuries were thought to be flash burns.
Mr Rowley declined to answer whether the authorities knew who was responsible or if the suspected bomber had been on the train, saying it was a live investigation which was being assisted by the intelligence services.
He later said officers were sifting through surveillance footage and examining the remains of the device.
“This is a very complex investigation which is continuing at speed,” he told reporters. “We are chasing down suspects.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also told LBC: “There is a manhunt under way as we speak”.
Britain has lifted its national security threat level to critical from severe, meaning an attack is expected.
British prime minister Theresa May said in a televised statement on Friday evening that armed police and members of the military would be seen on the streets in the coming days.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the blast through its Amaq news agency.
Pictures taken at the scene at Parsons Green showed a white bucket with a supermarket freezer bag on the floor of one train carriage. The bucket was in flames and there appeared to be wires coming out of the top.
Sky News has reported that the device had a timer, which had probably failed to detonate fully.
British police have not said anything about who could be behind the attack.
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London Ambulance said it had sent “multiple resources” including its hazardous area response team to the scene and the fire brigade said it had sent six engines and 50 firefighters who had helped evacuate another train at the station with 253 people on board.