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Terrified Tube passengers take cover as windows smashed.

Commuters yesterday were subjected to a barrage of stones, bricks and even shot at with air rifles during the height of the rush hour.

Eight crowded Central Line trains were targeted by vandals yesterday evening as the trains moved between Stratford and Leyton, an area well known for thuggish behaviour on Tube lines. Stones and bricks smashed windows and drivers urged passengers to move away from the windows as airguns were being fired.

Police are now investigating, concentring on the reports of airguns being used in the attacks, and police patrols were immediately stepped up in the areas although no arrests have been made to date. An appeal has been made for witnesses, with British Transport Police reporting there have been no injuries to passengers as a result of the vandalism.

A police spokeswoman said many windows had been smashed, with police working to establish exactly what weapons were used. She added passengers were shaken by the incidents as they could not move away from the windows due to overcrowding on the trains. Throwing stones and other missiles at trains, she continued, is not fun and can have serious consequences including prison terms for those involved in the vandalism.

Previous attacks on the eastern end of the District and Central lines resulted in drivers refusing to work until security was improved. Two years ago, between White City and Acton, similar attacks on 11 Central Line trains took place, with windows smashed with bricks and reports of airguns being fired at passengers.

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