LONDON — Plainclothes policemen yesterday chased and then fatally shot one man and later arrested another, both of whom they said were linked to the four terrorists who attempted to blow up three trains and a double-decker bus Thursday in London.
The man who died yesterday was seen leaping over a ticket barrier at the Stockwell station in south London, then racing into a Northern Line subway train.
The police, in hot pursuit, pushed the man to the floor and shot him in the head at least four times, witnesses said.
Police later said the dead man had not been one of the four failed bombers, who remained at large.
The other suspect was arrested in south London, half a mile from the scene of yesterday’s shooting. He is being charged with terrorist crimes.
“I heard lots of shouting,” said Mark Whitby, who was on the subway platform. “I saw an Asian guy run onto the train. He half-tripped and was half pushed. I saw an armed policeman point a handgun and shoot him in the head five times as the man was on the floor.”
In Britain, people from the Indian subcontinent are referred to as Asian. Police also released closed-circuit video pictures of four men suspected of being the bombers in Thursday’s attack, in which explosives failed to fully detonate.
In Birmingham, 110 miles northwest of London, police arrested a man at the Snow Hill rail station and seized at least two suitcases under Britain’s anti-terrorism laws, the Associated Press reported. Two men detained in London Thursday — one near the scene of one attack and another near Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Downing Street residence — were later released without being charged.
Police sources said they trailed the man shot yesterday after he emerged from a house not far from the station. He was wearing a heavy, thick coat, unusual as the weather was warm, a witness said. Police said he refused to stop when ordered to and ran away.
After the first round of bombings on July 7, in which at least 56 persons died, including the four suicide bombers, the police issued instructions to shoot to kill any person they believe is likely to be a suicide bomber.
British police seldom carry guns and, despite decades of Irish Republican Army violence in England, security experts said this was the first shooting of any terrorist suspect on the British mainland.
Police also fired shots as they raided a terraced house in a north London suburb of Kilburn, according to an eyewitness who photographed part of the raid on his cell phone.
The first CCTV image released yesterday shows a man in a black shirt with the word “New York” written across the front running away from the Northern Line at Oval station. The second image showed a man wearing a gray T-shirt with a palm tree design, a dark jacket and a white baseball cap on the top deck of the No. 26 bus on which a backpack bomb was found Thursday. A picture of the backpack showed its lower part had been ripped open by some form of explosion, and debris was scattered on the bus floor.
“That was a golden bonanza for investigators,” a security expert said.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair said the shooting of the man at Stockwell subway station yesterday was “directly linked” to anti-terror operations.
He said police officers hunting the bombers were facing “previously unknown threats and great danger.”
“We need the understanding and cooperation of all the communities,” added antiterrorism Chief Andy Hayman.
“This operation is targeted against criminals — not any community or section of a community.”
But Muslim communities feared a backlash from white British hard-liners. A large mosque in East London was evacuated after death threats, and early yesterday morning gasoline was poured on part of a home where the mother of one of the dead suicide bombers continues to live.
Azzam Tamimi, leader of the hard-line Muslim Association of Britain, voiced widespread suspicion that the police were overly violent.
“What heightens people’s anxiety is it gives the impression that [the shot suspect] was killed in cold blood and this in a way has horrified people,” he said.
He agreed, though that what the police faced was “extraordinary indeed.”
Distributed by World News & Features