British Police Kill Man On Train

Suspected London Bombers
London police released these surveillance photos of four men suspected of trying to bomb the city's transportation system. (Reuters)
By Glenn Frankel and Audrey Gillan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, July 23, 2005

LONDON, July 22 -- Plainclothes police chased a South Asian man into a crowded subway car Friday morning and shot him dead in front of terrified passengers, as the hunt intensified for four suspects believed to have carried out abortive bomb attacks on the transit system the day before.

Police released security camera photos of the four and pleaded for witnesses to come forward. The images caught the suspects moments before and after bombs misfired in three subway cars and a bus in an apparent attempt to replicate the suicide bombings of two weeks ago that killed at least 56 people.

Witnesses said policemen with handguns caught up to the Asian man on a subway car at Stockwell station in south London. One of the officers shot him five times at close range, setting off a panicked evacuation of the car, according to passengers on the train.

"He looked like a cornered rabbit, a cornered fox, absolutely petrified," said Mark Whitby, one of the witnesses. "They pushed him onto the floor, bundled on top of him and unloaded five shots into him. I saw it. He's dead."

Commissioner Ian Blair of the Metropolitan Police said the man, who was not identified, was "linked to yesterday's incidents" and had failed to obey police instructions to halt. But Muslim community leaders expressed fears that police were instituting a "shoot to kill" policy that could target innocent people because of ethnicity or appearance.

Police officials told British reporters that the officers feared that the man, who was wearing a thick coat despite warm weather, had explosives concealed on his body and was about to detonate them amid the crowd in the station. They acknowledged that they found no bomb on the body.

Police believe those responsible for Thursday's small explosions are linked to the July 7 attacks -- in which the bombers were among those killed -- although they have yet to determine how, according to a British official with knowledge of the investigation. One person was slightly injured in Thursday's attacks.

Police announced Friday evening that they had arrested a man in south London as a terrorism suspect. Heavily armed police conducting the fast-moving dragnet swept through successive neighborhoods during the day, disrupting traffic, closing subway stations and contributing to the general sense of alarm and unease.

Officials said the Friday shooting incident, which occurred about 10 a.m., began when the man emerged from a residence that was under surveillance in connection with the bombing investigation. He spotted the plainclothesmen who were following him and fled into the nearby Stockwell subway station, one stop from the Oval station that was the scene of one of Thursday's explosions.

The man, who was wearing a baseball cap and thick coat, vaulted over ticket barriers with police in hot pursuit. "There were at least 20 of them and they were carrying big black guns," said Chris Wells, a company manager who was there. "Everyone was shouting, 'Get out! Get out!' "

The man made it to the platform of the Northern Line and into a rail car before the police caught up to him. The shooting caused passengers to stampede out of the station or onto an adjoining train.

"Everyone was screaming and running off the Northern Line onto the Victoria Line platform, but I went the wrong way," said Sarah Simpkin, 27. "I banged on the doors of the Victoria Line train and the driver opened the doors and told everyone to get in. Then we got onto the train and got down low on the floor. There was a guy trying to calm us down."

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