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article imageShock in suburbia for neighbours of London blast suspect

By Alexandra DEL PERAL (AFP)     Sep 18, 2017 in World

Neighbours of the teenage chief suspect in the London Underground train bombing voiced their shock Monday as their quiet suburb was teeming with police operating behind a temporary metal security wall.

Residents of Sunbury-on-Thames voiced their sympathy for the elderly foster parents looking after the 18-year-old man, a couple who have been honoured by Queen Elizabeth II for taking in countless youngsters over the years.

The teenager, arrested Saturday at the Port of Dover, and a 21-year-old man detained Sunday in a suburb near Sunbury, have been questioned by counter-terror officers following Friday's explosion at the Parsons Green station.

The "bomb in a bucket", as it has been dubbed in British media, may have only partially detonated, sending a blast of flame through the Tube train carriages, injuring 30 people.

The Islamic State jihadist group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

- Police went 'multiple times' -

Ian Harvey, leader of the Spelthorne Borough Council local authority, said he understood that the 18-year-old was an Iraqi refugee who "came here aged 15 -- his parents died in Iraq", while the older suspect was a former foster child at the property in Sunbury.

Police have erected a high, solid metal security wall around the Cavendish Road house of foster carers Ronald Jones, 88, and his wife Penelope, 71, plus several neighbouring properties, blocking off the street.

Stephen Griffiths, 28, who lives inside the cordon opposite the foster couple, said he had seen police officers visiting the house between two and three weeks ago.

"I've seen multiple times the police go in there to speak to the foster parents," he told AFP.

"It started off as normal cops like the cops behind us and then it started going up to police in unmarked cars.

"That’s when I kind of started to suspect that this was something more then something little."

Asked if the 18-year-old was known to police, a spokesman for London's Metropolitan Police said: "I don't believe he was."

He added that he was not aware of any officers from the force visiting the address in Sunbury -- which falls under the Surrey Police area -- in the weeks before the attack.

- 'He was polite' -

Griffiths said he had known the Joneses all his life but had not seen the two boys currently living at the house.

"It is so sad it happens to them. They have fostered more than 200 kids. They are an amazing couple. When my mum got sick they helped me. This is going to ruin the trust they have in people," he said.

Residents within the cordon needed to show their passports to get through the security fence erected after Saturday's raid.

"Seeing dogs, guns... it is so scary," Griffiths said.

Mary, a pensioner, was among those evacuated from her home.

"I really don't blame the family. I do feel sorry for them. They just tried to help. Who can blame them?" she said.

"This is a bad situation but it happens, what can we do? There are hundreds of foster children. Are we going to suspect every one of them? It is frightening, but that's just what it is."

One mother in her mid-30s, who did not want to give her name, also said she felt sorry for the foster family, who had taken in youngsters on trust.

"I have never seen him (the suspect) but I have friends in the neighbourhood who have run into him several times and he was polite. He always said hi," she said.

"We didn't know there were refugee kids but, you know what, if they are nice and polite then I will be nice and polite; if they are rude, I won't talk to them."

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