By Inji Kim
On Friday, September 15, London woke up to the news that there had been an attack at the Parsons Green tube station in the District Line, the fifth busiest line on the London Underground system. The nation has already been through numerous terrorist attacks this year such as the Manchester bombing, the London bridge attack, Westminster attack and the Finsbury Park attack that resulted in countless deaths, injuries and increased fear for the Londoners. Britain’s terror threat level once again was raised to critical, meaning that the likelihood of a terrorist attack is expected imminently. Critical level is the highest threat level out of five levels.
The homemade bomb partially exploded in a packed rush-hour tube, indicating that that the device was intended to cause more casualties. Though there weren’t any deaths following the attack, 29 civilians have been injured, most suffering from burns. The city closed down the District Line service for the remainder of the day. As of now, the police arrested three men, mainly teenagers, over the attack. Three days after the incident, the threat level was lowered from critical to severe.
Though feeling of vulnerability to terror resurged amongst the Londoners, the city remains calm and continues on with its busy life. Officials such as Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, encouraged the city to “keep calm and go about their lives in as normal a way as they possibly can.” Drewids in London have accounted that this is the overall reaction of the city. “Other than the change in the tube on the day of the attack, we didn’t notice too much of a difference,” said Ivo Zikovic (’19), a participant of the London Program. The program has an emergency protocol that requires the students to report back within 30 minutes when an emergency text is sent out to the mobile group messaging system set up among students and faculty members. “I felt pretty disconnected to the whole incident. I saw the news from my phone and television, just like I would have had if I were back in the U.S.,” said Matthew Johannes (’19), another participant in the program.
Despite the general calm, Robin Smith, British Transport Police’s assistant chief constable, stressed that being “alerted but not alarmed” is still advised for Londoners in his interview with the Guardian. As mentioned before, the city already has been through major attacks within this year and is susceptible to attacks in the future as well. Drewids agreed that there is a level of precaution taken in their daily lives; Johannes said that he “looks around for big bags” when he is in crowded, public spaces. Alison O’Brien (’19) shared her observation that “Things always seem more extreme when you are encountering them in media. Overall, things are less intense as I saw them at the news back home, even though the program, students, and the whole city is always cautious and ensures that they take safety precautions.”