Car bomb discovered in London
British police said they discovered an explosive device in a car laden with gasoline, nails, and gas canisters in the West End theater and entertainment district of central London early today and began a terrorism investigation.The Washington Post reports:
The police said the car, a silver-green Mercedes, had been abandoned outside a nightclub.
Peter Clarke, Britain’s most senior counterterrorism police officer, said that if the explosives had detonated “there could have been significant injury or loss of life” because the car was parked in a busy part of London where “many, many people were winding up a night out in clubs and elsewhere.”
He said there had been no prior intelligence information indicating that the attack was coming. And, he said “we are keeping an entirely open mind” about the likely identity of suspects.
The car had now been made safe, the police said, and parts of central London were still cordoned off after the incident, near the landmark Piccadilly Circus area.
The police were alerted after an ambulance crew, called to the nightclub because someone had fallen ill there, noticed what they thought was smoke inside the car, Mr. Clarke said.
Britain’s newly-installed prime minister, Gordon Brown, in power for only two days, urged citizens to be vigilant, particularly “over the next few days”. He also ordered a meeting of so-called Cobra group of high-level officials — the Cobra name means Cabinet Office Briefing Room A — to assess the severity of the incident.
...The Telegraph reports that the car was set to be detonated by a mobile phone. This graphic indicates the car was near Piccadilly Circus.
Police defused the bomb and launched a massive investigation into what security officials said was presumed to be an attempted terror attack. The probe will include reviewing huge amounts of footage from the closed-circuit cameras that ring the Haymarket area, close to Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square.
The Daily Mail indicates that al Qaeda is suspected in the bombing attempt. This photo shows the car with a "blow-up" of the gas can. This map of the location shows other significant sites nearby. The Mail has many other photos at the main link.
The Guardian coverage is here. The Independent story is here.
The Times says the device failed to detonate.
The failure to detonate could leave significant clues for police to pursue as they examine the vehicle and the material in it for finger prints and other evidence. The registration on the car could also lead to the perps even if it was stolen.
This may be an al Qaeda op, but it would be different from their usually scheme in that so far no other devices have been found. They do like to time their events around change in governments and this occurred on the new Prime Minister's second day in office and just after his announcement of a new team including some anti war pukes. For the anti war crowd, we should expect them to attempt to put responsibility on everyone but the perps. Melanie Phillips takes a look at the new team.