With “potentially massive” destructive power.
By Guy Dresser and Avril Ormsby for Reuters:
LONDON (Reuters) – British police defused a bomb in an abandoned car in London’s theatre district on Friday and launched a counter-terrorism investigation.
The bomb, which Sky News quoted unidentified sources as saying was “potentially massive”, was found inside a light green Mercedes left outside a nightclub in the early hours of Friday, a police officer quoted witnesses as saying.
The witnesses said the occupant drove “erratically” before smashing into some bins outside the nightclub and running off. Bouncers from the nightclub investigated, saw what looked like gas canisters inside the vehicle and called the police.
Officers sealed off the area at around 2 a.m. (0100 GMT) and found a bomb, the Metropolitan police said.
“They discovered what appeared to be a potentially viable explosive device. This was made safe,” they said, adding that counter-terrorism officers were investigating.
Terrorism experts said an al Qaeda connection to the potential attack could not be dismissed.
“We couldn’t rule it out,” a security source said, noting that the threat from international Islamist terrorism was the main reason the official British threat level is placed at “severe”, the second highest level.
“Numerically speaking, al Qaeda is a strong possibility but it just is too early to attribute specifically.
“It would be wrong and short-sighted to rule out domestic options as well. Obviously there are various extremist groups out there too,” the source added.
The MI5 intelligence agency said last year it believed Islamist radicals were plotting at least 30 major terrorist attacks in Britain and it was tracking some 1,600 suspects.