Terror probe after explosive devices found at London airports, Waterloo Station

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A police-woman stands guard outside a police cordon at Waterloo Station, central London on March 5, 2019, following a report of a suspicious package at the station. (AFP)
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Security personel stand guard outside Waterloo station in central London on March 5, 2019, following a report of a suspicious package at the station. (AFP)
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Security personel stand guard outside Waterloo station in central London on March 5, 2019, following a report of a suspicious package at the station. (AFP)
Updated 06 March 2019

Terror probe after explosive devices found at London airports, Waterloo Station

  • A building near Heathrow Airport evacuated as precaution after package opened and part of it burned
  • Met Police Counter Terrorism Command treating the incidents as a “linked series”

LONDON: UK police say a counter-terrorism investigation has been launched after small improvised explosive devices were found at Heathrow Airport, City Airport and Waterloo Station on Tuesday.

At least two of the parcel bombs sent to the locations had Irish stamps, Sky News said. Irish police are now assisting British counter-terrorism officers, they said on Tuesday.

The mailers – all A4-sized white postal bags containing yellow Jiffy bags – were assessed by specialist officers to be small improvised explosive devices. The devices, at this early stage of the investigation, appear capable of igniting an initially small fire when opened, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

The Met Police Counter Terrorism Command is treating the incidents as a linked series and is keeping an open mind regarding motives. British Transport police said their specialist units were called to Waterloo Station after a “suspicious item” was found in the mailing room, but said the public were not put in harm’s way.

One package was found near Heathrow Airport at an office building, which was evacuated as a precaution after the package was opened and part of it burned causing a small fire. Officials say the building is not at the airport and flights were not affected.

No one was injured by the devices and air and rail services were not affected. No arrests have been made.

The extent of the incident is still not yet known. Most of Waterloo Station remained in operation; when contacted by Arab News, several shops were not even aware of the incident and one said they were trading as normal. Some were informed, and were given a warning with minimal information, and told to follow updates on the Metropolitan Police's social media accounts.

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RELATED: UK police investigating ‘suspicious packages’ at London airports, Waterloo station

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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, thanked first responders for their “swift actions” and urged residents and visitors to the city to “remain vigilant.”

In a separate incident late on Tuesday, Transport for London said that Kings Cross St Pancras underground station had been closed due to fire alert.

Earlier on Tuesday, police confirmed they were investigating security alerts at two London airports as well as at Waterloo station involving “suspicious packages.”

“British Transport Police were called to Waterloo station at 11.40am today following reports of a suspicious package. The item is currently being assessed by specialist teams. Cordons are in place however train services continue to operate as normal at this time,” the British Transport Police said.

Metropolitan Police posted on Twitter: “At approximately 12.10hrs today, Tuesday, 5 March, police were called to a report of a suspicious package at London City Airport Aviation House, Royal Docks, #Newham”

“Specialist officers are at the scene. The building has been evacuated as a precaution.”


Philippine regulator repeals utilities’ water contracts after Duterte rebuke

Updated 6 min 8 sec ago

Philippine regulator repeals utilities’ water contracts after Duterte rebuke

  • Concession agreements with Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services as ‘onerous and disadvantageous’ to the public
  • Existing concessions will expire on 2022, but were subsequently extended by 15 years

MANILA: The Philippines’ water regulator said on Wednesday it has canceled the 15-year extension of concession deals it signed with the country’s two largest utilities after pressure from President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte described the concession agreements with Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services as “onerous and disadvantageous” to the public, prompting them to be revoked in a move that could turn off investors at a time the government is seeking foreign capital to modernize its infrastructure.
Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, the country’s regulator, told lawmakers it had revoked last week a decision extending the water concession deals with the two utilities until 2037, sending their shares tumbling more than 13 percent. The existing concessions will expire on 2022.
The firms, which are servicing a combined 16 million customers, secured 25-year concession agreements in 1997, which were extended in 2009 by a further 15 years.
Duterte acted after Manila Water and Maynilad won arbitration cases in Singapore against the government.
The arbitration court in Singapore ordered the Philippines government to pay the utilities a combined 10.8 billion pesos ($212.14 million) in compensation. The companies had said they would forfeit any damage claims to avoid angering the president.
“These companies not only have inefficiently delivered water to the households, but exacted unconscionable amounts from the taxpayers,” Salvador Panelo, Duterte’s spokesman, said in a statement.
The water utilities’ woes display a violation of the sanctity of contracts, Guenter Taus, former president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, told Reuters.
“It does not instill investor’s confidence. You can’t just go out and revoke contracts,” Taus said.
The embattled companies’ shares continued their decline on Wednesday, with Manila Water slumping 14 percent.
Maynilad stockholders Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and DMCI Holdings Inc. sank 13 percent and 13.4 percent, respectively.
Manila Water president Jose Rene Almendras told lawmakers the company has yet to study the impact of the regulator’s decision.
“There should be a clean process because we have commitments both in terms of capital expenditures, projects and loans,” Maynilad chief operating officer Randolph Estrellado said.