Oxford Circus Underground station in London has been evacuated while police investigate a “customer incident,” British Transport Police (BTP) have confirmed. Armed police are on the scene.
The Metropolitan Police tweeted: “Police called at 16:38 to a number of reports of shots fired on #OxfordStreet & underground at Oxford Circus tube station. Police have responded as if the incident is terrorist related. Armed and unarmed officers are on scene and dealing along with colleagues from @BTP.” It added that police are at the scene to establish “exactly what happened.”
BTP added: “Please continue to avoid the Oxford Street and Regent Street area. If you are in the area, go into a building and stay inside until further notice.”
Ryan Butcher, a reporter for the Independent who was inside the station at the time, said panic broke out after passengers were told to evacuate the station. A tannoy announcement said there had been a “reported emergency” and police arrived quickly, he said.
“Everyone started running … I saw smoke … people started falling over in the streets.”
He is sheltering in a nearby restaurant, where he said other people were “shaking and crying,” adding: “Its just terrifying.”
According to Twitter user Assed Baig, there is “Panic at Oxford Circus as people shout bomb!” while BBC journalist Kawoon Khamoosh said “too much police in Oxford Circus. People are screaming and running trying to escape the area. Everything was normal, changed in a min.”
Too much police in Oxford Circus Street. People are screaming and running trying to escape the area. Everything was normal, changed in a min
— Kawoon Khamoosh (@KawoonKhamoosh) November 24, 2017
Another Twitter user Chi Chi Izundu says she has been locked in clothing store Zara until “the situation is under control.” She added that people “panicked and ran for cover into the changing rooms.”
Officers are responding to reports of an incident at Oxford Circus station. Officers are on scene, more information when we get it. Follow @BTP for updates.
— BTP (@BTP) November 24, 2017
BTP did not immediately confirm the cause of the alert. It tweeted: “We continue to respond to an incident at Oxford Circus. The station is currently closed, please avoid the area at this time. Officers are on scene.”
Bond Street tube station has also been closed. BTP said its officers were called at 4.37pm local time on Friday. A spokesperson added they are responding in conjunction with officers from the Metropolitan Police.
Police called at 16:38 to a number of reports of shots fired on #OxfordStreet & underground at Oxford Circus tube station. Police have responded as if the incident is terrorist related. Armed and unarmed officers are on scene and dealing along with colleagues from @BTP
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) November 24, 2017
The evacuation came as thousands of shoppers flocked to central London to shop the Black Friday sales.
A number of offices in the area are on lockdown.
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