Kirkuk: Oil Rich Iraqi City Brings Iran-Backed Militias And America's Kurdish Allies To the Brink of War




President Donald Trump last week called for a new approach to Iran—demonizing the Islamic Republic as a terror state—but as Washington focuses on its nuclear deal with Tehran, America’s Kurdish allies in Iraq are accusing the administration of letting Iran in through the back door.

Amid escalating tensions between the Iraqi government in Baghdad and the country’s autonomous Kurdish region in the north, the Iraqi military today made an assault on two major oilfields outside the disputed city of Kirkuk.

Related: U.S. Soldiers Killed In Combat Operations Against ISIS in Iraq

The show of strength by Iraq’s central government—following a referendum in favor of Kurdish independence last month—has caused civilians to flee and Kurdish fighters to withdraw from their posts, the Associated Press reported.

The autonomous Kurdish government has condemned the attack emphasizing how Iran-backed militias armed with U.S. military hardware took part in the offensive. “Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces … attacked [Kurdish forces] from two fronts ...  using U.S. military equipment including Abram tanks and Humvees,” the Kurdish military said in a statement.

Iraqi forces advance towards the city of Kirkuk during an operation against Kurdish fighters on October 16, 2017. Iraqi forces clashed with Kurdish fighters near the disputed city of Kirkuk, seizing a key military base and other territory in a major operation sparked by a controversial independence referendum. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE

The U.S. has sought to downplay the clashes between its two key allies against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS). The coalition against ISIS said it was aware of “limited exchange of fire during predawn hours of darkness," but called the fighting a “misunderstanding”.

Maj. Gen. Robert White, commander of coalition ground forces called for dialogue between the two sides and asked that all parties “remain focused on the defeat of our common enemy,” a reference to ISIS.

The U.S. has provided air support to federal and Kurdish forces in Iraq in the battle against ISIS. However, tensions have come to a head in Kirkuk after Baghdad declared the Kurdish referendum in September unconstitutional.

In the summer of 2014 as ISIS made its advance from Syria into Iraq, Kurdish fighters remained in the ethnically mixed city, thwarting the militants’ advance. However, the city lies outside the oil-rich Kurdish autonomous area.

In his speech Friday, Trump counted Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East as one of the reasons for decertifying the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and listing the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a  terror organization. “This regime has fuelled sectarian violence in Iraq, and vicious civil wars in Yemen and Syria,” the president said.

Iran, through the creation of the Popular Mobilization Forces in 2014, has been able to spread influence and power through armed groups like the Badr organization, among others, with strong ties to Tehran.    

  

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Rare Celestial 'Occultation' Event Sees New Moon Blocking Out Three Planets and Bright Star




The moon is on Monday going through a remarkable celestial event, the only one of its kind in a 28-year window.

In under 24 hours, the moon will pass in front of three planets and one of the sky’s brightest stars. The last time it obscured three planets in so short a period was in 2008, and the next will be in 2036.

Astronomers refer to the moment when one celestial body blocks out another in Earth’s sky as an “occultation.” It happens fairly regularly as the moon orbits our world, but it’s unusual for so many bodies to be involved in this way.

Late Sunday and Early Monday Eastern time, the moon passed in front of the planet Venus and the star Regulus.

Regulus is well known for its place among the 22 “first magnitude stars,” so called because they are the brightest in the night sky. Only four of these can be occulted by the moon, the other three being Aldebaran, Spica and Antares.

On Monday evening, the moon will move in front of Mars at 4pm EST, and Mercury at 7pm EST.

Skygazers in North America will see the three planets and the star arranged in a wonky diagonal line, with the moon passing downward through them. Even though it happens partly during daylight hours, if you have access to a telescope and can see the moon, just observe it as it moves through the sky.

Unfortunately for Americans, however, the event will be best visible in Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia.

If you want to know when the next occultation is happening—even less rare small-scale events can be fascinating to observe—you can head over to the International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA) website.

In addition to looking cool, occultations have some scientific usefulness, too. According to IOTA, data gathered during occultations has helped astronomers refine their understanding of the exact positioning of celestial bodies.

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Paul Pogba at 24: How the Manchester United Star Compares to Football’s Greats




Paul Pogba turned 24 on March 15, a young man already saddled with the world’s largest transfer fee in history and the expectation to match.

Frustrated at a lack of first-team opportunities, Pogba left Manchester United for Juventus in the summer of 2012.

In Turin, he won four Serie A titles and lost the 2015 Champions League final to Barcelona, before moving back to United in the summer of 2016 for £89.3 million.

Since returning to English football, Pogba has polarized opinion like few before him. To some, he is already one of the world’s best midfielders. To others, he represents the victory of hype over reality and substance. In the middle, the reasonable might suggest Pogba is a young man overburdened with talent, some of which remains untapped.

Perhaps it is instructive, on the day Pogba turns 24, to compare his achievements with those he is one day expected to emulate—Ballon d’Or winners, those awarded the title of world’s best footballer.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo turned 24 on February 5 2009, following a breakout season in 2007-08 during which he scored 42 goals for Manchester United in all competitions.

The 2008-9 campaign would prove to be his last in Manchester, as he departed for Real Madrid that summer for what was then a world record transfer fee.

By February 2009, Ronaldo had won two English Premier League titles, as part of what was perhaps Sir Alex Ferguson’s last great United side, plus an FA Cup, a League Cup and a Portuguese Super Cup with Sporting Lisbon.

He had also already lifted the UEFA Champions League, on a May evening at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow when Chelsea’s John Terry skied a penalty and cried. Ronaldo opened the scoring in that game with a header. His goalscoring exploits in 2008 won him his first Ballon d’Or as the world’s greatest footballer.

Lionel Messi

Messi celebrated his 24th birthday on June 24 2011. By that point he had won two Spanish La Liga titles, two Spanish Super Cups and one UEFA Champions League, against Barcelona in 2006.

Messi would have to wait until 2009 for his first Ballon d’Or.

Zinedine Zidane

The man who might have brought Pogba to Real Madrid turned 24 on June 23 1996. Zidane’s greatness would take time to season and manifest itself in trophies: By his 24th birthday, he was still at a fine Bordeaux side containing future France stalwarts Bixente Lizarazu and Christophe Dugarry that finished runner-up in the 1995-96 UEFA Cup.

Zidane would win the Ballon d’Or, but two years later as a Juventus player.

Kaká

The elegant midfielder turned 24 in April 2006, by which time he had won Serie A with AC Milan and lost one of the more remarkable Champions League finals in history to Liverpool in Istanbul.

Kaká was an early bloomer, though, and he won the Ballon d’Or aged just 25, after AC Milan gained revenge on Liverpool by winning the 2007 Champions League.

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Who Is Cooper Hefner? Hugh’s Son Doesn’t Respect Trump and Is Revamping ‘Playboy’ for New Generations




Even before Hugh Hefner died Wednesday at age 91, his son Cooper was poised to take on his father's legacy. Last October, the Playboy magazine founder stepped down from his role as chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises and Cooper stepped in. At the time he was only 25 years old. His father remained involved with the magazine at least until August, when Cooper said he still received input from him about the monthly. But now Cooper will have to mourn his father and run with his own vision alone. 

Cooper Hefner, Hugh Hefner and Crystal Hefner attend Playboy Mansion's Annual Halloween Bash at the Playboy Mansion on October 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. Cooper has since taken over as chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises. Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Playboy

Here are 14 quick facts about Cooper Hefner:

He’s 26 years old: Cooper Hefner was born to Hugh Hefner and Kimberley Conrad on September 4, 1991, in Los Angeles.

There was a nude portrait of his mother in the library growing up: "Yeah, that was weird," Cooper told The Hollywood Reporter for a profile published in August. "It was like the elephant in the room." Conrad was named Playmate of the Year in 1989, the same year she married Hefner. On Mother’s Day in 2016, Cooper asked his mom to re-create her cover from August 1988 as part of a series looking back at former Playmates from the 1970s through the 1990s.

He attended Ojai Valley School and Chapman University: He attended the private, college-prep school in Ojai, California. Though it was a boarding school, he emphasized to LA Weekly that “I had a great childhood, and I was always home on the weekends.” He went on to major in film production at Chapman University in Orange, California.

His politics are progressive: He’s a liberal from a family of liberals. "I'm a liberal, and I have a real issue with the conservative side feeling like they own the military," he said. He joined California State Military Reserve in January. He’s said he wants Playboy to have a voice on issues like “Free the Nipple” and thinks the company should be a major, if not the major, philanthropic force for breast cancer awareness. “Talk about a relevant Playboy Foundation,” he said.

Just this past week he tweeted “a reminder for all as there's a tremendous amount of hate permeating the news cycle throughout the US these days,” he said. “Freedom and acceptance of others will always end up on the right side of history. No ands, ifs, or buts about it.”

He’s a big proponent of the First Amendment: “One of the reasons why I respect my dad so much was that he fought for the First Amendment,” he said. “He spent his life fighting for freedom of the press, freedom of expression.”

He’s even considered running for office (as a Democrat): "If I wasn't doing what I was doing, I would pursue a career in politics,” he said. “I actually almost ran for Congress this past election in the 37th District. It's still something I want to do.” However, he’s also said he thinks he might not be electable because of his affiliation with Playboy.

He isn’t a Trump fan: And apparently, neither was his father. “We don't respect the guy,” he told THR. “There's a personal embarrassment because Trump is somebody who has been on our cover.” He added: “Yes, there are lifestyle components to Playboy, but it's really a philosophy about freedom. And right now, as history is repeating itself in real time, I want Playboy to be central to that conversation.”

He founded and served as CEO of Hefner Operations & Productions (HOP): A media startup targeting the “cool nerd,” Cooper integrated HOP with Playboy Enterprises when he returned to his father’s company in 2016.

He’s pro-nudity in Playboy magazine: Cooper vehemently disagreed with the decision to abolish nudity in the pages of Playboy magazine. “When you have a company and the founder is responsible for kick-starting the sexual revolution,” he said, “and then you pluck out that aspect of the company’s DNA by removing the nudity, it makes a lot of people including me sit and say, ‘What the hell is the company doing?’” He insisted that the issue wasn’t the existence of nudity in the glossy print magazine, but rather “the way in which the nudity and the girls were portrayed.”

He’s engaged to Scarlett Byrne: Byrne—an actor who appeared in the last three Harry Potter movies and the television series The Vampire Diaries—posed nude for Playboy and penned an accompanying manifesto titled “The Feminist Mystique” (a clear allusion to Betty Friedan’s iconic 1963 book The Feminine Mystique). In it she explained that she did the shoot to support Cooper and because she saw it as an “opportunity to make a statement about equality between the two sexes.” Cooper first saw her in the Potter movies, and his little crush led him to try to get his friend Scout Willis (daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore) to introduce them.

He seems to be a pretty big Harry Potter fan: And the fact that he obviously saw the movies and is engaged to Byrne is not the only indication. One of his most recent tweets, from Wednesday evening, is a home video from when he was still a teenager and turned his home into Hogwarts. It’s hard to imagine anyone who’s not a big fan going to the trouble. “Throwback to when we turned my home into Hogwarts. I may have worn a cloak, and we may have been a bit too old, but we had a great time,” he tweeted. Then he added: “Thank you to the Internet & iMovie of eight years ago for the box office quality special effects. #stupify #blockbusterhomemovies.”

He’s not a big sports fan: Cooper plays Ping-Pong but otherwise doesn’t participate in or watch sports much. “If you ever want to shut yourself off to an intellectual conversation, talk about sports," he said.

He’s trying to revamp Playboy for new generations: "Creating something that resonates with my generation and the generation that comes after mine is how I'll measure my accomplishments," he told THR. He added that for a time, Vice Media had turned the heads of the demographic he wants to appeal to, but that “nobody is viewing them as some pirate ship any longer.”

He also doesn’t want the company to feel like a fraternity. "Playboy went too 'bro-y,'" he told LA Weekly, recalling a time when the company was going in a direction he didn’t like. "It was appealing to the frat guy, instead of doing a better job of catering to my friends, the creatives and current tastemakers of this generation."

Cooper found it difficult to watch his father’s health fading: "It's tough to watch him struggle,” he told THR for the August profile. “But I'm just happy it's physical and not mental.”


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What We Learned From England's World Cup Qualifier Victory Over Lithuania




England moved a step closer to qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Sunday evening, as it defeated Lithuania 2-0 at Wembley Stadium.

Jermain Defoe and substitute Jamie Vardy scored in each half against a team that offered little to test Gareth Southgate’s team in defense.

Here is what we learned from another routine qualification victory for England.

Why England may not need an ‘identity’

The former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes noted, in well-publicized prematch comments, that England “needed an identity” under its newish manager. Southgate, though, has suggested England requires “flexibility.” In his second game since taking permanent charge of England, Southgate appeared to bear that out in practise. Defoe began as striker instead of Vardy, who had started up front against Germany. At times, Raheem Sterling, a nominal winger, dropped back to play long passes from central midfield.

Here Southgate appears to identify an essential difference with club football perhaps in previous eras when England was prouder, often to its detriment. England was inferior last week and will be inferior to Germany in a World Cup, technically at least. Against Lithuania it will always dominate the ball. And yet an international manager cannot go out and buy a whole new set of players. Making the ones he has adaptable will give Southgate a better chance of success than many of his predecessors. An iden

Emergence of Alli is casting Rooney from the mind

Is it another sign of a decline in hubris to build a team around one player? It seemed, against Germany, as if England might start to load all of its hopes, dreams and historic hangups onto the shoulders of Dele Alli.

Alli, Tottenham Hotspur’s midfielder, can be a delight to watch when he drifts away from defenders’ eyesight, often plucking long balls out of the air with long limbs for shooting opportunities.  

This was the role Frank Lampard performed so well for Chelsea, of course, and intermittently excellently for England over many years. Alli is more creative, but carries a similar goal threat.

Alli was frustrated in his opportunities at Wembley, as Lithuania built forts on its 18-yard line and dropped deep to nullify the effects of those runs. Still, slowly, it is becoming easier to forget the absence of Wayne Rooney when England plays, which is presumably what Southgate wants. The last of the “Golden Generation,” or at least the silver bridge between that rich era and this one of lowered expectations—is being phased out. In its place is something less garlanded, but potentially more effective.

Defoe’s is a story that deserves another chapter

In his first England start since 2013, Defoe seemed keen to impress. On 21 minutes he had England’s best chance of the game to that point. Adam Lallana, the Liverpool midfielder, leaped elegantly away from challenges on the right wing, and slid a pass to Defoe, whose shot was saved by Ernestas Setkus in the Lithuanian goal.

Defoe, the Sunderland striker, would not have to wait long for his goal. A minute or so later, Raheem Sterling tricked his way to the byline and cut the ball back. Defoe was in the right place, on the edge of the six yard box, to make the finish look easy—often the mark of someone who knows what he is doing in a job. Encouraged, evidently, he attempted an atypical Defoe goal on 30 minutes: a long shot that had Setkus moderately concerned. Now, Defoe is 34 but his game has not aged as a roadrunner’s might—it’s hard to think, for example, that Vardy will be as effective as he is now when he reaches the same age. Given England has a dearth of elite strikers of appropriate age, Defoe is an experiment Southgate could choose to persist with.

Limited Lithuania mask England’s faults

The trouble with playing teams as defiantly unambitious as Lithuania—heroically determined to preserve their goalkeeper at the expense of mounting their own attacks—is that flaws in the dominant team go unnoticed.

England is strong at full back, whichever combination it picks. Here that was Ryan Bertrand and Tottenham’s consistently excellent Kyle Walker. In central defense, Michael Keane looks assured so early into his international career. This was the kind of game where John Stones looks classy, his weaknesses in defense hidden, again, by Lithuania’s conservatism with the ball.

Here is the problem, though. Eric Dier, Southgate’s best option for defensive midfield, does not play there anymore for his club side Tottenham. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, a central midfielder against Lithuania, operates there for Arsenal but his starts can be sporadic. Only Adam Lallana, of this lineup, can fairly claim to play for England as he does for his club. It was Lallana’s sweet flick that set up Vardy for England’s second goal on 66 minutes.

Southgate can speak of the need for adaptability and be correct but to win tournaments he needs to dominate central areas against the best teams. England, right now, doesn’t appear equipped to do that.


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London Blast Live Updates: Chaos On Subway After Parsons Green Explosion




At least 22 people injured at Parsons Green station in west London.The blast is being investigated as an act of terrorism, police confirm.London police say an improvised explosive device was used.

10:15 a.m. ET: As we round up our live blog, at least 22 people are injured, a suspect remains at large and security services will work out how the device was built and made its way onto a packed commuter train. For the latest news on the blast, head to our homepage at inhandnetworks.com.

10:10 a.m. ET: According to Britain's Sky News, police have identified a suspect in connection with the Parsons Green blast.

10:02 a.m. ET: Britain's threat level is to remain at severe, British Prime Minister Theresa May said after holding a meeting of her COBRA security team on Friday. She called the attack "cowardly" and said the "device intended to cause significant harm."

9:50 a.m. ET: London's Met Police has said that Londoners will see an increased police presence, particularly in crowded places, over the weekend in reaction to the attack.

No suspect has been named in connection with the attack and officials are yet to announce any suspected motive. British officials have criticized President Donald Trump for blaming the attack on a "loser terrorist." Nick Timothy, former chief of staff to Prime Minister Theresa May, called his comments "unhelpful from a leader of our ally."

Suspicion will however fall on radical Islamists. Both the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda have called for attacks on trains in the West, as well as posting guides and propaganda to direct supporters to strike against them.

9:40 a.m. ET: The sporting world has reacted to the attack. Chelsea, champions of Britain's Premier League located close to the site of the blast, have said they hope their match with Arsenal on Sunday still goes ahead.

Manager Antonio Conte said that extremists should not ruin the everyday lives of Londoners.

"I'd like to say all our thoughts are for the people affected in the incident on the tube," he said at a press conference.

"For sure this type of situation is very dangerous, your mind goes to the people in this situation. I think we have to try to think only to play the game. This is the best way. We have to continue, to show we are stronger than them." 

The Premier League has given no indication that the match will be postponed.

9:30 a.m. ET: International reaction continues to pour in after the blast at a London subway station. 

The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, tweeted that the city stood in solidarity with London, saying that it felt the same pain as the city after last month's two vehicle-ramming attacks in Catalonia. 

"I want to express the solidarity of Spain and the support to the British people and their authorities," tweeted Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

8:10 a.m. ET: London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said "there is a manhunt underway as we speak." London's Met Police has declined to say whether a suspect is in custody or not.

Security sources have told CNN that a timer was found on the device, indicating that the perpetrator would not have been present at the time of the blast. 

7:43 a.m. ET: Britain's National Health Service has raised the number of people being treated for their injuries in the wake of the blast to 22. It said they were at four hospitals across London.

A manhunt is now underway for the perpetrator of the attack, and investigators will be poring over surveillance footage to see how the device came to be left on the train and by whom. The apprehension of whoever is behind the device will be vital to ensuring that the attacker cannot strike again.

7:35 a.m. ET: The Met Police tells Newsweek there is no second device being investigated, and no knifeman on the run, contrary to unverified social media reports. Police looked into reports of a man with a knife on Fulham Road, near the station, but that line of enquiry has been "stood down," the source said.

7:15 a.m. ET: Trump has continued to tweet about the London attack, calling for the internet to be "cut off" because of extremists.

"Loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner. The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off & use better!" he wrote.

He then moved on to talk about his proposed travel ban and the campaign against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS). Police are yet to confirm the identity of a suspect or the nature of terrorism believed to be related to the blast.

6:48 a.m. ET: U.S. President Donald Trump has tweeted to condemn the blast in London.

He wrote: "Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!"

6:45 a.m. ET: The Met Police's assistant commissioner Mark Rowley, delivering a statement outside Scotland Yard, the police force's headquarters, has said the blast was caused by a suspected Improvised Explosive Device, or IED.

The device which exploded on a London subway train on Friday morning only partially exploded, British newspaper The Guardian is reporting, citing sources in London's Met Police. 

Explosive experts say the device was "viable" and should have exploded with more force.

6:22 a.m. ET: London's Ambulance Service has confirmed that 18 people have been taken to hospital with injuries following the blast. It said "none are thought to be in a serious or life-threatening condition" as a result of the explosion.

"We were called at 8:20 a.m. today, with the first ambulance crew arriving within five minutes. As we are very busy dealing with this incident, we would ask the public to only call us in a genuine emergency.

6:02 a.m. ET: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has issued a statement after the Parsons Green blast. He said the city "utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life."

He called on Londoners to "remain calm and vigilant."

In comments made after three radical Islamist attacks earlier this year, Khan said that London "has proven again and again, we will never be intimidated or defeated by terrorism."

Arrests for terrorism-related activity are on the rise in Britain. On Thursday, it was announced that there had been a 68 percent increase in such arrests.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner and senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism in Britain, Neil Basu, said on Thursday that "there is no doubt that since March and following the attacks in London and Manchester we have seen a shift-change in momentum. But while the terrorist threat has increased in recent months, so has our activity."

The location of the Parsons Green blast in west London, which police are now treating as a terrorist incident. Google Maps

5:45 a.m. ET: The Met Police force tells Newsweek they cannot confirm reports on social media that there is a second device being investigated.

Mark Rowley, London Metropolitan Police's assistant commissioner and the head of National Counter Terror Policy, will make a statement outside of Scotland Yard, the force's headquarters, at 11:30 a.m. local time (6:30 a.m. ET).

5:38 a.m. ET: British Prime Minister Theresa May has released a statement in the aftermath of the blast. "My thoughts are with those injured at Parsons Green and emergency services who are responding bravely to this terrorist incident."

Eyewitnesses have described a chemical smell on the train following the blast, but the means used to build the device are yet to be confirmed by authorities. They say wires were hanging from the side of the white bucket that exploded, indicating a possibility that the device could have been deliberately built to explode.

5:30 a.m. ET: The blast at a London subway station is now being treated as a terrorist attack, police have confirmed.

"The Met’s Counter Terrorism Command are investigating after the incident at #ParsonsGreen tube station is declared a terrorist incident," London's Met Police wrote in a tweet.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is to convene an emergecy security meeting on Friday in the aftermath of the blast.

5:05 a.m. ET: The blast left several people injured apparently because of a stampede, with some of those fleeing the scene trampling one another in a bid to escape danger.

Other passengers were described by eyewitnesses as "badly burned."

British counter-terrorism police are at the scene of the incident but the blast remains a transport police investigation.

4:08 a.m. ET: An explosion on a London subway train during the early morning rush hour has left several train passengers injured. 

Early reports indicate that the blast came from the rear of the train while it was in the station, causing a stampede as passengers tried to exit the station. One local reporter from Britain's Metro newspaper said some people had suffered facial burns.

"We are aware of an incident at #ParsonsGreen tube station. Officers are in attendance. More info ASAP," London's Met Police tweeted. It had no further comment when contacted by Newsweek.

Transport for London said it was "investigating an incident at Parsons Green" and advised commuters to avoid travel between Wimbledon and Earl's Court in London's southwest. The line the station is on warned of delays due to a disruption.

One of the passengers posted pictures of a white bucket they suspected of being the cause of the blast, left by the door of the subway train. "Explosion on Parsons Green district line train. Fireball flew down carriage and we just jumped out open door," wrote @RRigs.

London's ambulance service said it had dispatched its hazardous area response team to the scene of the incident. 

"We have sent multiple resources to the scene including single responders in cars, ambulance crews, incident response officers and our hazardous area response team," the London Ambulance Service said on Twitter.

"Our initial priority is to assess the level and nature of injuries."

Eyewitnesses described a scene of panic around Parsons Green station. Shahzad Afzal, a 39-year-old store manager at a local supermarket, said that he saw commuters injured and emotional after the incident.

"There's a lot of police, armed police as well, fire brigade, ambulance, everything. People became panicked, a lot of people were crying," he said by phone. 

"Now they have cordoned off the area. I can see one lady now, they are trying to make her sit on a stretcher, it looks like she was hurt. But I can see she is conscious," he added.

Britain remains on high alert, and authorities have maintained the threat level at severe after three attacks claimed by the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in three months earlier this year that killed 36 people. The attacks were two vehicles attacks on two London bridges, with one followed by a knife assault, and a suicide bomb explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. 


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