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July 29, 2005
Shots And Explosions Heard In London Raid (Updates: Captures!)

Londoners have heard shots and explosions -- as many as six -- coming from a raid which British authorities say is connected to the July 21 bombing investigation:

Officers carrying machine guns and wearing gas masks moved in and a loud explosion was reported in the Ladbroke Grove area. ...

Witnesses said the police swooped at 11.30am and sealed off Tavistock Road and the adjoining crescent.

Tavistock Road runs close to Westbourne Park Tube station where the man who attempted to blow himself up on a train near Shepherd's Bush on July 21 got on to the network.

Agence France-Presse reports that the six explosions came from the Notting Hill region, apparently part of the same raid. Further details to follow ...

UPDATE: Police arrested two women in a queue at a transport station in London, in "dramatic fashion," as the Telegraph puts it in its update. Fox News reported on air that the police had asked the media to turn off its cameras at the scene of the standoff, perhaps to keep the people inside from seeing the police deployments on TV. More ...

UPDATE II: The BBC now reports that police arrested two more of the July 21 bombers in this raid:

Two more of the failed London bombing suspects are believed to have been arrested as police carried out a number of armed operations in west London.

They were thought to be the men wanted for the Oval Tube and No 26 bus attacks of 21 July, said a BBC correspondent. ...

In Dalgarno Gardens officers were continually shouting at someone in a flat to come out. They were addressing him as "Muhammad".

The police asked him: "What is the problem? Why can't you come out?

"Take your clothes off. Exit the building. Do you understand?"

The police now say that no firearms were discharged during this raid, which means that the noises heard by the neighbors likely came from flash-bang grenades. Police use these to stun and disorient suspects while rushing them to get them in custody. Using them near explosives such as those used for the Tube bombings seems like a high-risk strategy, but it beats giving a terrorist time to set them off deliberately.

UPDATE III: Now police are saying that they arrested three men in this raid:

Heavily armed police wearing gas masks and reportedly using stun grenades raided two west London apartment blocks Friday, and officials said they arrested three people connected to the failed July 21 transit bombings. ...

Police said they raided two residences Friday in west London and arrested two men at one address and one at another, a Metropolitan Police spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity. Police were "securing the area and treating it as a crime scene."

An eyewitness at the scene told the media that he recognized one of the men as a bus driver for London's transport system:

In addition, a witness told The Associated Press that a man wearing what appeared to be a bus driver's uniform was led away by police in handcuffs.

The witness, Osama Ahmed Ali, saw a Somali man whom he recognized as a bus driver.

"He was in a purple-and-yellow bus driver uniform," said Ali, 16. "I've been on a bus with him a couple of times."

That seems significant. If Islamists have infiltrated the London bus and subway systems as employees, then they could have had much bigger plans for its destruction. London police may have to investigate all transport-system employees for possible connections to radical Islamist mosques and activities. That will prove unpleasant for all concerned.

UPDATE IV: The updated BBC report now says that all four July 21 bombing suspects have been arrested. The fourth one was apprehended by Italian police in Rome:

The fourth suspect, wanted for the attempted Shepherd's Bush Tube attack, has been arrested in Rome and named as Somali-born UK citizen Osman Hussein.

Those British passports came in handy to the terrorists, didn't they? It makes the lightning-quick captures of the AQ operatives and a good portion of their network all the more amazing.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 29, 2005 7:09 AM

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