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Two Bombs Were Set To Blow In London

Sky News | June 29, 2007

Police have confirmed that not one, but two massive car bombs were set to explode in the heart of London's West End.

The first, in Haymarket, was packed with petrol, gas cannisters and nails and was defused after police were alerted by an ambulance crew called to an incident at a nearby nightclub.
The second was in a car that was illegally parked nearby and towed to the Park Lane car pound.

Staff there alerted police because "it smelled of gas."

That device has also been made safe and been taken away for examination.

In a news conference Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke said the second car was in Cockspur Street that runs between Haymarket and Trafalgar Square.

It was issued with a parking ticket before being towed to the Park Lane cafr pound where staff alerted police because it smelled of gas.

DAC Clarke said: "The vehicle was found to contain very similar materials to the first vehicle.

"Ther was a considerable amount of fuel, gas cannisters and a quantity of nails.

"This device, like the first was viable and was made safe by officers.

"The discovery of a second bomb is obviously troubling and reinforces the need for the public to remain vigilant."

Sky News sources say one of the first police officers on the scene of the Haymarket car bomb may have saved dozens of lives by defusing the explosives before the bomb squad arrived.

It is believed the quick-thinking cop recognised that the car was wired to blow up, jumped in and disconnected the trigger device, thought to be a mobile phone.

The device, which contained 60 litres of petrol, a large amount of nails and several gas canisters, was found in the Mercedes early this morning.

Police had received reports of a suspicious vehicle close to the Tiger Tiger nightclub in Piccadilly shortly before 2am.

An ambulance crew, who treated a person in the club in an unrelated incident, reported that there was smoke inside the car.

The second device is believed to have been found by police in a blue hybrid Mercedes that was illegally parked in the West End and was towed away to the Park Lane car pound in the early hours of the morning.

Forensic officers and bomb disposal teams spent several hours examining the car.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said the UK is "currently facing the most serious and sustained threat" and authorities are doing everything they can to protect the public.

Police believe they have foiled a major terror attack and said if the Haymarket bomb had gone off it could have caused "significant injury or loss of life".

The timing coincided with hundreds of revellers leaving nightspots, but police said there was no intelligence to suggest such an attack.

The area was cordoned off by officers who examined the metallic green car, outside an American Express foreign exchange, and then discovered the device.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command, paid tribute to those who manually defused it, saying they had not only saved lives but gave forensic officers the opportunity to gather a substantial amount of material.

He said it was too early to speculate about who was involved, and called on the public to remain vigilant.

Officers have appealed for witnesses who may have seen anything suspicious in the Haymarket area last night and early this morning. The number is 0800 789 321.

Extra police patrols are taking place across London following the incident.

Whitehall sources said that the police and security services are looking at possible international links - including similarities to car bombs used by insurgents in Iraq.

Mr Brown said the incident reminds us that Britain faces "a serious and continuous threat" and the public "need to be alert" at all times.

The Haymarket is in the heart of London's theatreland, which is packed with thousands of people through most of the day and night.

Police have begun an investigation and the suspect vehicle was removed from the scene for detailed forensic examinations.

Detectives will be looking at CCTV footage from the area surrounding the Haymarket and interviewing witnesses, including staff from the nightclub.

Congestion charge cameras, which recognise number plates and run 24 hours a day, will be able to track the route of the vehicle into the capital.

Former head of the Flying Squad John O'Connor said the attacker had most probably "bottled it" and was likely to be a homegrown terrorist.

There has been major traffic disruption to the area, with several roads shut, along with Piccadilly Circus Tube station.

The Home Secretary chaired an emergency Cobra meeting about the terror scare and then briefed the Cabinet.

Enhanced security measures have been put in place at the Houses of Westminster in the wake of the incident.

The discovery of the car bomb comes just under two years since suicide attacks killed 52 people in the capital.

Another 784 were injured when four bombs exploded on London's transport network on July 7, 2005.

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