- The Washington Times - Friday, June 29, 2007

LONDON Police thwarted an apparent terror attack today 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 anti-terror police chief Peter Clarke said.

Britain’s new home secretary, Jacqui Smith called an emergency meeting of top officials, calling the attempted attack “international terrorism.”

“We are currently facing the most serious and sustained threat to our security from international terrorism,” she said afterward. “This reinforces the need for the public to remain vigilant to the threat we face at all times.”

Police planned to examine footage from closed-circuit TV cameras in the area, Mr. 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, Mr. Clarke said.

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.

It was ladies’ night Thursday, nicknamed “Sugar ‘N Spice,” at the massive Tiger Tiger nightclub, a three-story venue that at full capacity can pack in 1,770 people and stays open until 3 a.m.

The Haymarket venue is Tiger Tiger’s flagship club; owner Novus Leisure also has clubs in other cities across Britain.

Police said they did not have any suspects, and urged people who were out in the area to call Britain’s anti-terror hot line with any information.

Authorities closed the Piccadilly Circus subway station for eight hours and cordoned off a 10-block area around the scene.

Mr. Clarke said police would examine footage from the so-called “ring of steel” a network of video cameras equipped with license plate recognition software.

The cameras were put in place following a series of IRA bombing attacks in London in the 1990s and to enforce London’s congestion charge, a toll levied on cars entering central London during certain times of the day.

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