A suicide bomber has been condemned by rail passengers for attempting to blow himself up in a carriage clearly designated as a ‘Quiet Zone’. The incident, which took place on the 17:42 from London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour was witnessed by over fifty commuters, many of whom were trying to read quietly.
Eyewitnesses described the scene as the young terrorist prepared to detonate his payload of doom.
‘He looked like such a nice young man,’ said commuter Mrs Maureen Grebe, ‘One moment he was sitting opposite me silently reading his book, the next he had jumped up from his seat and was shouting “Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!” at the top of his voice.
‘I looked up from my own book, and said “Shh!” I don’t think he understood and, as he grappled with his rucksack, I told him: ‘Young man, I am trying to read The Time Traveler’s Wife, and this brouhaha is not helping one little bit.’’
The terrorist continued to make a noise as he rummaged around in his bag trying to find the detonation cord but was eventually shamed into submission by a carriage full of passengers staring angrily and pointing at the sign that said ‘Quiet Zone’.
‘I think he got the message,’ said Mrs Grebe, ‘because when he turned round and saw the sign he apologised profusely, gathered up his things and shuffled off to the next carriage.
‘As he left we all looked around at each other, raised our eyebrows and shook our heads in disbelief. Then, a little later on, there was the distant noise of an explosion, although by this point I was so engrossed in my book I barely noticed.’
Speaking after the event, an operative for South West trains said, ‘We have ‘Quiet Zones’ for a reason and we would ask that patrons desist from all forms of noisy behaviour. This includes the use of mobile phones, walkmans and the shouting of praise to God before detonating a bag full of semtex. Anyone who wishes to engage in this sort of thing should proceed to the specially designated ‘Detonation Zone’, although for reasons of health and safety we would ask people not to explode while the train is still in the station.’
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has already announced a full public inquiry into the incident. ‘This sort of thing must never be allowed to happen again,’ he said, ‘the British people have a right to read in silence. This is why all future ‘Quiet Zones’ will be fitted with additional signage that shows a picture of a bomb with a big a red cross running through it – a message I hope everyone can understand.’