Islamic State group claims London subway bombing; UK raises threat level to 'critical'

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British officials raised the country's terrorism threat level to "critical' - meaning another attack is expected shortly. (WTVD)

The Islamic State group is claiming that the London subway explosion that sent at least 29 people to hospitals during morning rush hour Friday, was carried out by an affiliated unit.

Following the incident, British officials raised the country's terrorism threat level to "critical' - meaning another attack is expected shortly.

Prime Minister Theresa May acted on the recommendation of the Joint Terrorism Analysis Center after the subway train bombing attack at the Parsons Green station in southwest London. The analysis includes security services, police, and government agencies.

"This is a live investigation," Assistant Commissioner for London's Metropolitan Police Service, Mark Rowley, said after the blast in the Parsons Green subway station just after 8 a.m. local time.

Eyewitnesses told ABC News that the blast occurred as the train pulled into the station.

"I heard a loud bang and as I looked to my right, there was a flame, a fireball came through the carriage ... As the doors opened, people then began leaving the train straight away," said Martin Adams, who was riding in the subway car at the time. "I saw some flames coming from what I thought was a blue bag."

"I saw a couple people with burns. One lady had her hair badly singed by the fire," said Sally Faulding, who witnessed the panic on the subway platform. "I also saw people injured obviously from having been stampeded on the platform because we were all running. People were falling over."

A British government official said the incident is being treated as a terror attack but at this early stage appears to be an isolated incident.

The London Ambulance service said it transported 18 people to the hospital, but none of the injuries are serious or life-threatening.

Police say the improvised explosive device did not fully explode. Scotland Yard also said there had been no arrests as yet.

"I got off the train onto the platform (after the explosion)," Abams said. "There were a number of people with singed hair and what appeared to be facial burns. I then went back onto the carriage to see if there were any casualties, but there were no casualties at all on the train. Everybody appeared to get off. There was nobody laying on the platform floor. I assessed that there were no serious casualties at that time.

"There was just the heat, the fireball, and the noise, but no concussion as such."

British Prime Minister Theresa May plans to hold an emergency cabinet meeting at 1 p.m. local time.

Metropolitan Police said on Twitter the incident was being treated as a terrorist incident.

"The emergency services attended and at this stage, we are treating the matter as a terrorist-related incident and the Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism command will take responsibility for that investigation," Deputy Constable of British Transport Police Adrian Hanstock said. "At this stage, it's little early to draw any full conclusions as to what the circumstances and cause of that explosion are and we are investigating and exploring that at the moment. We will get further information throughout the day but for now, we just remind people to remain alert and report anything suspicious to the emergency services."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan condemned those who would perpetrate such an incident in a statement.

"Our city utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life," Khan said. "As London has proven, again and again, we will never be intimidated or defeated by terrorism."

President Donald Trump, who has clashed with Khan in the past, shared his thoughts on Twitter just before 7 a.m. Eastern time. Trump referred to the suspects being "in the sights of Scotland Yard," though there was no confirmation of that publicly by London officials.

New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill said there were no known threats to the city's subway system, but reminded passengers to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings.

London Ambulance said they responded to the scene in West London with multiple resources, including ambulance crews, incident response officers, and its hazardous response team.

"The train was packed, and I was down the other side of the carriage standing up, looking at my phone and then I heard a big boom and felt this heat on my face," Natalie Belford, 42, told The New York Times. "I ran for my life, but there was no way out. The doors were full of people and the carriage was too packed to move down."

An eyewitness told the BBC that the train was "packed," and several people were apparently injured when they were trampled trying to get off the train.

"I saw crying women, there was lots of shouting and screaming, there was a bit of a crush on the stairs going down to the streets," eyewitness Richard Aylmer-Hall told the BBC.

Some residents in the neighborhood were already following the spirit of Khan, opening their homes to those who may be in need of help.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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