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Terror on the Tube - Parsons Green terror attack

LONDON: At least 22 people were injured when a suspected terrorist set off an improvised explosive device on a London subway train during the Friday morning rush hour. It is the fifth attack this year.

Police appealed for photos and information, and had no word on the whereabouts of the perpetrator as a manhunt appeared to be under way. Images of a small fire in a white bucket with protruding wires were broadcast by Sky News, which said the device had probably failed to detonate fully. It may have had a timer, Sky reported.

The Parsons Green subway station in west London was cordoned off amid witness reports of a stampede as passengers had tried to flee the blast. Twenty-two people were taken to hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening as the police reported most passengers suffered “flash burns".“My thoughts are with those injured at Parsons Green and emergency services who are responding bravely to this terrorist incident,” Prime Minister Theresa May said on Twitter. She was chairing an emergency meeting of officials that began at 1pm local time.

US President Donald Trump wasted no time responding. "Another attack in London by a loser terrorist," he tweeted. "These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!"

Scotland Yard said it would not comment on Trump's suggestion that police could have prevented the attack. The White House did not immediately respond to questions about whether the president had been briefed on the incident.

In an apparent US leak, CBS reported that the explosives were consistent with those used in another recent attack. The US and UK have close intelligence-sharing ties and the UK has publicly criticised US leaks of police intelligence after previous attacks.

Londoners are growing used to terrorism and to the sight of heavily armed police patrolling the transport network. The police have stepped up the number of arrests and on Thursday reported that terrorism-related arrests had risen 68% over the past year. The terror threat level is “severe", meaning an attack is likely.

The latest attempt comes after a series of attacks 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. Most of the attacks have been claimed or praised by Islamic State.

Well-drilled medical staff declared a major incident at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, as TV footage showed images of injured passengers with bandages on their heads.

“There was a massive flash and flame that went up the side of the train, then an acrid chemical smell, then a big stampede,” Chris Wildish, a witness, told Sky News. "The crush for the stairs was pretty heavy.”