False alarm at London's Oxford Circus station sends people scurrying

London’s police force said on Friday that they had stood down after a reported incident in the heart of London’s shopping district.

“Our response on #OxfordStreet has now been stood down,” the Metropolitan Police said on its official Twitter account. “Given the nature of the info received we responded as if the incident was terrorism, including the deployment of armed officers,” police added.

The reports were centred on London’s Oxford Street and in the nearby Oxford Circus underground station, one of the busiest in the city.

London’s Metropolitan Police Service said in an initial statement that the reports were of gunfire in the area. In a later update on Twitter, police said they had “not located any trace of suspects, evidence of shots fired or casualties.”

Britain London Incident

Police officers and members of the public walk near the entrance of Oxford Circus subway station in the west of London after it was reopened Friday following a scare. (Alastair Grant/Associated Press)

Witnesses on social media reported people running into nearby shops and pubs.

The station was evacuated for well over an hour before being reopened.

Britons in general, and Londoners in particular, have been jumpy after a string of extremist attacks this year, including deadly attacks using vehicles to hit pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and outside a London mosque.

Britain’s official terrorist threat level is set at “severe,” indicating an attack is considered highly likely.

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