29 June 2007

Panic on the streets of Picadilly: Mercedes car bomb defused

The London Fog thwarted an apparent terror attack Friday near the famed Piccadilly Circus in the heart of London, defusing a bomb made of a lethal mix of gasoline, propane gas, and nails after an ambulance crew spotted smoke coming from a silver Mercedes outside a nightclub.

The bomb in the city's theater district was powerful enough to have caused "significant injury or loss of life" - possibly killing hundreds, British police chief Peter Clarke said.

Police planned to examine footage from closed-circuit TV cameras in the area, Clarke said, hoping the surveillance network that covers much of central London will help them track down the driver of the rigged Mercedes.

Officers were called to The Haymarket, just south of Piccadilly Circus, after an ambulance crew - responding to a call just before 1:30 a.m. about an injury at a nearby nightclub - noticed smoke coming from a car parked in front of the club.

A bomb squad manually disabled the bomb.

Early photographs of the silver Mercedes showed a canister bearing the words "patio gas," indicating it was propane gas, next to the car. The back door was open with blankets spilling out. The car was removed from the scene midmorning.

The busy Haymarket thoroughfare linking Piccadilly Circus to the Pall Mall is packed with restaurants, bars, a cinema complex and West End theaters, and was buzzing at that hour.

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