London Police Find Second Car Bomb

A police forensics officer examines a car suspected of carrying a bomb in Haymarket in London. i i

A police forensics officer walks past a car suspected of carrying a bomb in Haymarket in London. Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
A police forensics officer examines a car suspected of carrying a bomb in Haymarket in London.

A police forensics officer walks past a car suspected of carrying a bomb in Haymarket in London.

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

London police on Friday found a second car bomb stuffed with fuel, gas canisters and nails in the city's busy entertainment district.

British anti-terror police chief Peter Clarke said the second car was originally parked near where the first was found, but officials had it moved to an impound lot. It was found hours after the first car bomb was defused.

Authorities were alerted to the first device early Friday morning after an ambulance crew spotted smoke coming from a silver Mercedes. Police said the materials used to make the two bombs were similar.

The incidents happened just hours after new Prime Minister Gordon Brown chose his Cabinet. It marks the first major challenge for Brown's three-day-old administration, particularly his new home secretary, Jacqui Smith.

On Friday, Smith chaired a meeting of the country's top security committee, Cobra, on Friday and said afterwards: "We are currently facing the most serious and sustained threat to our security from international terrorism."

The discovery of the first bomb was made at about 1:30 a.m. London time, when an ambulance went to the popular "Tiger, Tiger" nightclub to attend to someone who had become ill. The ambulance crew noticed smoke coming from the vehicle, Clarke said.

A bomb squad was then called to the scene and manually disabled the device, he said.

"If the device had detonated, there could have been significant loss of life," Clarke said.

Authorities are poring over a "huge amount of CCTV [security]" video, he said. He said it is too early to speculate on whom might be responsible, but authorities "are keeping an entirely open mind."

Brown, who took office on Wednesday, said the incident was a reminder that Britain faces "a serious and continuous threat" and the "need to be alert."

"The first duty of a government is the security of the people," he said. "We face a serious and continued security threat to our country. I will stress to the Cabinet that the vigilance must be maintained over the next few days."P>

Meanwhile, Smith said she had met with had chaired a meeting of the government's top emergency committee, known as Cobra, and met privately with the prime minister.

The incidents come days before the second anniversary of the July 7 London bombings, when four British Muslim suicide bombers killed themselves and 52 bus and subway passengers.

For more than a year, the government has held the country's terrorist threat level at severe - which means a terrorist attack is highly likely.

Forensic officers in white suits were examining a silver sedan and had placed a blue tent-like cover over the rear of the vehicle, which was parked outside an American Express foreign exchange office.

Sky News television showed a photograph of the vehicle taken early in the morning, a green canister could be seen beside the car and the backseat door was open with blankets spilling out.

The station quoted witnesses as saying doormen from a nearby nightclub had reported that someone crashed a Mercedes sedan into garbage bins and ran away.

The area around the vehicle was cordoned off as a precaution on Friday morning. London transport officials said the Piccadilly Circus underground train station was closed.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said he has been in contact with his counterparts in London and is monitoring the investigation. He said he has seen no information that would suggest there is a threat in the United States.

"At this point, I have seen no specific, credible information suggesting that this incident is connected to a threat to the homeland," Chertoff said in a statement. "We have no plans at this time to change the U.S. threat level. DHS and the FBI have been in touch with our state and local homeland security and law enforcement partners to convey available information."

Chertoff went on to encourage Americans to enjoy the upcoming July 4 holiday, but said the public should be vigilant and report any suspicious activities to authorities.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press

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