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London hit by four minor explosions

Capital returns to normal after terror alert

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London today came under terrorist attack for the second time, although four incidents which affected three tube stations and a bus were minor.

Sky News said that the emergency services responded to a 1pm incident on a number 26 bus in Hackney Road, North London, in which the top windows were blown out. No-one on the bus is reported injured, although the bus driver is said to be "shaken".

Furthermore, a rucksack exploded at around 12.40pm at the Victoria Line's Warren Street station. An eyewitness told Sky News: "I was in a middle carriage and the train was not far short of Warren Street station when suddenly the door between my carriage and the next one burst open and dozens of people started rushing through. Some were falling, there was mass panic.

"It was difficult to get the story from any of them what had happened but when I got to ground level there was an Italian young man comforting an Italian girl who told me he had seen what had happened.

"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.

"The man then made an exclamation as if something had gone wrong. At that point everyone rushed from the carriage."

The BBC said that a further two "minor explosions using detonators only" occurred at Oval and Shepherd's Bush Tube stations reportedly simultaneously with the Warren Street blast. At Shepherd's Bush, police reported a man threatened to blow himself up before running away.

No fatalities are reported, and the unconfirmed injured total is currently one person at Warren Street - possibly the person carrying the rucksack. His condition is unknown.

In another apparently related incident, police cordoned off University College Hospital - close to Warren Street tube station - and deployed armed officers. Few details are available, although Sky News says an internal memo asks staff to "be on the lookout for a black male, possibly of Asian origin, about 6ft 2ins tall, wearing a blue top with wires protruding from the rear of the top". Police declared the incident "stood down" at around 4pm, without giving any further details, but shortly after confirmed that two suspects had been arrested in connection with the attacks.

One of these may may be a man detained by armed police while carrying a rucksack in Whitehall, close to Downing Street, at around 3.30pm. There is, however, no evidence that he is linked to the other incidents.

The Northern Line is now closed, as are the Victoria and the Hammersmith and City line*, although police have now asked people to use the transport system as normal, while avoiding Central London unless absolutely necesarry, and obviously the scenes of the incidents. Ideally, try to avoid leaving London during the rush hour.

Tony Blair this afternoon met the Cobra committee and later made a televised statement in with Australian PM John Howard during which the latter praised Londoners' steadfastness and determination to carry on as normal. For his part, Blair expressed his personal determination to get on with his life. ®

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*For up-to-date mainline and underground service info, see the National Rail Enquiries website.

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