Explosives-Packed Car Defused in London
By David Stringer
Police in London's bustling nightclub and theater district on Friday defused a bomb that could have killed hundreds after an ambulance crew spotted smoke coming from a Mercedes filled with a lethal mix of gasoline, propane and nails, authorities said.
The bomb near Piccadilly Circus was powerful enough to have caused "significant injury or loss of life"—possibly killing hundreds, British anti-terror police chief Peter Clarke said.
The discovery resurrected fears that followed the July 7, 2005, suicide bombings that killed 52 people on three London subways and a bus and failed attacks on the transit system just two weeks later.
"We are currently facing the most serious and sustained threat to our security from international terrorism," Britain's new home secretary, Jacqui Smith, said after an emergency meeting of top officials.
But in Washington, two U.S. officials briefed on the investigation said British authorities had so far found no terrorist link in the early hours of the investigation. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case, said the inquiry had yielded no suspects and no definitive description of anyone leaving the vehicle.
Police were examining footage from closed-circuit TV cameras, Clarke said, hoping the surveillance network that covers much of central London will help them track down the driver of the Mercedes.
U.S. Rep. Peter King, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said British authorities saw a man fiddling with a cell phone near the Mercedes.
"They found a cell phone and it was going to be used to detonate the bomb," said King, R-N.Y.