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Trump pledges 'close collaboration' with UK to thwart attacks after London Tube explosion

  • An explosion at London Tube station during Friday morning's rush hour is being investigated as a terrorist attack, authorities say.
  • Twenty-three people went to the hospital for treatment of injuries that were not considered serious, the London Ambulance service says.
  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan calls for "calm" in the wake of the reported explosion at Parsons Green train station.

President Donald Trump on Friday told British Prime Minster Theresa May the United States will continue to help the U.K. thwart terror attacks, the White House said after an attack on a London subway train.

In a telephone call with May, Trump expressed support for those injured in the explosion and "pledged to continue close collaboration with the United Kingdom to stop attacks worldwide targeting innocent civilians and to combat extremism," the White House said.

A home-made bomb exploded on a packed rush-hour train in London's Tube injured 29 people on Friday, police said, in what was being treated as the fifth terrorism attack in Britain this year.

Passengers on board the train heading into the capital fled as fire engulfed a carriage at Parsons Green underground station in West London after the explosion at 8:20 a.m.

Some suffered burns while others were injured in a stampede to escape. The National Health Service said 19 people had been taken to London hospitals, while four others showed up on their own. None was thought to be in a life-threatening condition, the ambulance service said.

An unverified image on social media appeared to show a white bucket on fire inside a supermarket bag on the floor of one train carriage. The same picture does not seem to show extensive damage to the train.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said it was an improvised explosive device and most of those injured had "flash burns." The scene was cordoned off as the investigation continued.

"It is very much a live investigation we are following down the lines of inquiry," Britain's top counter-terrorism officer said.

"We now assess that this was a detonation of an improvised explosive device," Rowley told reporters. He said most of the injuries were thought to be flash burns.

Rowley declined to answer whether the authorities knew who was responsible or if the suspected bomber had been on the train, saying it was a live investigation which was being assisted by the intelligence services.

A correspondent for Britain's Sky News tweeted that British security forces have "identified a suspect involved" in the bombing via surveillance footage.

Pictures taken at the scene showed a white bucket with a supermarket freezer bag on the floor of one train carriage. The bucket was in flames and there appeared to be wires coming out of the top.

"I was on second carriage from the back. I just heard a kind of whoosh. I looked up and saw the whole carriage engulfed in flames making its way towards me," Ola Fayankinnu, who was on the train, told Reuters. "There were phones, hats, bags all over the place and when I looked back I saw a bag with flames."

Another witness, who did not want to be named, said: "It was every man for himself, people were panicking, people just ran over each other. There was a lady with badly burned legs, it was pretty shocking. The woman I was with was just run over — it was a stampede."

Outside the station, a woman was sitting on a pavement with a bandage around her leg, while armed police patrolled. A Reuters witness saw a woman being carried off on a stretcher with her legs covered in a foil blanket.

'Keep calm'

The prime minister returned to London to chair a meeting of Britain's emergency response committee, COBRA, at 1 p.m. London time.

"My thoughts are with those injured at Parsons Green and the emergency services who, once again, are responding swiftly and bravely to a suspected terrorist incident," May said.

May tweeted, "My thoughts are with those injured at Parsons Green and emergency services who are responding bravely to this terrorist incident."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan also called for "calm" in the wake of the explosion. The Muslim mayor said Londoners "will never be intimidated or defeated by terrorism."

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also said people should "keep calm" and continue their lives as normal.

London Ambulance said it had sent "multiple resources" including its hazardous area response team to the scene and the fire brigade said it sent six engines and 50 firefighters who had helped evacuate another train at the station with 253 people on board.

"We have sent multiple resources to the scene including single responders in cars, ambulance crews, incident response officers and our hazardous area response team, with the first of our medics arriving in under five minutes," said Natasha Wills, assistant director of operations, at London Ambulance.

Transport for London said there was no service on the western part of the District Line which runs through Parsons Green.

Trump claimed that investigators were aware of the person who carried out the attack.

Asked about the president's tweet, which appeared to disclose some information about the investigation being conducted by British security forces, May said, "I never think it's helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation."

May also said that the police and security services were doing all they could to identify those responsible for the "cowardly attack."

Britain's fifth major terrorist attack

Friday's blast was the fifth major terrorist attack in Britain this year.

In March, a man drove into pedestrians on London's Westminster Bridge killing four, before stabbing a police officer to death outside Parliament. Two months later, a suicide bombing at a pop concert in Manchester killed 23 people.

In June, a van and knife attack around London Bridge was followed by a van attack outside a London mosque.

Taken together Britain has witnessed its deadliest terrorist violence in more than a decade when, in 2005, suicide bombers set off explosions on underground trains and a double-decker bus, killing 52 people and injuring scores of others.

Reuters contributed to this report