London terrorist attack

UK raises threat level to critical after London train blast

British PM, Theresa May earlier rebuked Trump’s tweet insinuating the attackers were known to British police

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 September, 2017, 2:54am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 September, 2017, 4:09am

Britain raised its national threat level to maximum on Friday after a bomb detonated on a London Underground train, and Prime Minister Theresa May said troops would be deployed to key locations.

The terror threat has been increased from “severe” to “critical”, meaning another attack is expected imminently, after the explosion on a packed morning rush-hour train left 29 people injured.

In a pre-recorded television statement, May said military personnel would replace police officers “on guard duties at certain protected sites which are not accessible to the public”.

She said: “The public will see more armed police on the transport network and on our streets, providing extra protection.

“This is a proportionate and sensible step which will provide extra reassurance and protection while the investigation progresses.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the explosion, Britain’s fifth terror attack in six months.

Terror blast on London train injures 22 as manhunt continues

The terror threat level was raised to “critical” in May after the Manchester bombing, which was also claimed by the IS group.

Earlier, May had rebuked Donald Trump for a post of Twitter insulating the “loser terrorists” behind a botched train attack were known to British police.

“Another attack in London by a loser terrorist,” the US president tweeted.

“These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!” Trump added, appearing to reveal undisclosed intelligence from the headquarters of London’s Metropolitan police force.

In a terse public response from May, who warned the US president and others not to speculate.

“I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation,” May told journalists in London.

Trump’s latest comments were described as “unhelpful” by London’s Metropolitan Police, as well as by Nick Timothy, May’s former chief of staff.

“True or not -- and I’m sure he doesn’t know -- this is so unhelpful from leader of our ally and intelligence partner,” Timothy wrote on Twitter.

After his tweets, and with ties apparently under strain, Trump spoke with May to convey “his sympathies and prayers” for victims of the London attack, the White House said in a statement.

“The president pledged to continue close collaboration with the United Kingdom to stop attacks worldwide targeting innocent civilians and to combat extremism.”

The US president also used Friday’s London train attack to renew calls for his controversial ban on travellers from several predominantly Muslim countries — a rallying cry of his right-wing base who have recently been angered by his support for an amnesty for some illegal immigrants.

“The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific -- but stupidly, that would not be politically correct,” the president said in a series of tweets.

Later in the White House Rose Garden, Trump expressed exasperation at how terrorism “just keeps going and going,” and signalled he wanted harsher penalties for terrorists.

“We have to be very smart, and we have to be very, very tough,” he said. “We’re not nearly tough enough.”