A few seconds earlier, armed police officers wearing gas masks had fired CS canisters into the flat in a block in North Kensington. The men emerged shaking and suffering from the effects of the gas, were ordered to strip by the police and arrested.
Film taken by a nearby resident, which was broadcast by ITN last night, also showed an armed police officer attempting to enter a flat on the balcony underneath but he had to abandon his attempt when two children came out of a nearby door and approached him.
One of the men was last night identified by Scotland Yard as Ramzi Mohammed, who is wanted over the attempted bombing at Oval Underground station on 21 July. The other is Muktar Said Ibrahim, 27, an Eritrean from north London suspected of trying to bomb a bus in Shoreditch on the same day.
The events in North Kensington were only part of a dramatic and fast-moving day, which ended with all four bombing suspects in custody eight days after the failed attempts to set off four bombs in London. That came two weeks after the 7 July bombings, which killed 52 people as well as the four suicide bombers. The inquiry is the most extensive ever conducted by the Metropolitan Police.
A third man was arrested yesterday morning in another raid in Tavistock Crescent in Notting Hill, about a mile away. He was later named as Wahbi Mohammed, aged 23, and will also be questioned about the 21 July attacks, particularly about the abandoned partly exploded bomb in Little Wormwood Scrubs, discovered last Saturday and which raised the possibility of a fifth bomber. All three were taken to Paddington Green police station for questioning.
Police are already questioning Yasin Hassan Omar, 24, a Somalian suspected of being the man who attempted to explode a bomb at Warren Street. He was arrested in Birmingham after a tip-off on Wednesday.
Only hours after the North Kensington arrests, a third suspect was arrested in Rome. Scotland Yard last night confirmed that the man was Hussain Osman, a Somali, who was detained at the home of his brother, who was also arrested.
Mr Osman, 27, is believed to have been the suspect who failed to detonate a bomb at Shepherd's Bush station; a picture of him on a bus wearing a white vest was released by police on Wednesday night, about the same time that police raided a house in Stockwell, south London, where Mr Osman was believed to live with his wife and three children.
Yesterday's arrest in Rome is understood to have followed an extensive surveillance operation involving several European police forces. Scotland Yard will seek his extradition.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of the Anti-Terrorist Squad said the investigation was moving "at great speed" and was still continuing. "It is dynamic, complex and wide-ranging," he said.
Yesterday's dramatic armed raids were on a flat in the Tavistock Crescent area of Notting Hill and on a property in a block of housing association flats in Dalgarno Gardens, North Kensington. Residents described how armed officers had surrounded the flat, and ordering a "Mohammed" to come out.
"He was being asked to come out with his hands up, naked or in underclothes," Nicolas Holliman said. "They were giving directions for him to come out, telling him he would be safe if he puts his hands up." Another resident, Jane Southwell, said: "They kept saying, 'if you do what we say you will not be hurt' and telling him he was surrounded. There were armed police all around the block. The shouting went on for about 20 minutes, telling him that he couldn't get away." Police then fired the CS gas canisters.
The mother of the two children shown in the ITN film, Camilla Dempster, was in Bath when she received a call to say that her children were on television, caught up in the armed siege. Callum, five, and Tehya, four, had been at home with their father on the Peabody Estate when they suddenly heard a kicking at the door, she said. Their mother explained: "The police were saying they had to come out. It was just panic stations. I guess they just wanted to get people out as fast as possible."
In another police operation, a woman and a man were arrested at Liverpool Street station in London. The station was evacuated, trains diverted and the area sealed off for some time.
The suspects were forced to the ground at gunpoint just before 2pm as they arrived at the central concourse after alighting from a train. Police took away two pieces of luggage, including a black rucksack with blue piping, belonging to the arrested people, who are believed to be of east African origin.
Security sources last night refused to say whether the arrests were linked to the operations in London and Rome, adding that the bags were being examined.