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Police identify Liverpool hospital attacker, call bombing a terrorist attack

Click to play video: 'UK terror threat level raises to ‘severe’ after car blast' UK terror threat level raises to ‘severe’ after car blast
WATCH ABOVE: In the UK the terror threat has moved up a notch to severe after a terrorist incident outside a hospital in Liverpool. Police say a homemade bomb detonated in the back of a taxi killing the passenger, but the driver managed to jump out and survive. Four men are being held and questioned under the terrorism act as police investigate. Crystal Goomansingh reports – Nov 15, 2021

Correction: An earlier version of the Reuters story cited a BBC report that the taxi driver had locked the bomber inside the cab during the explosion, but that is unconfirmed.

British police have identified the suspect behind an explosion which engulfed a taxi in flames outside a hospital in Liverpool on Sunday, a blast the authorities have declared a terrorist incident.

Police say 32-year-old Emad Al Swealmeen, who was killed in the blast, boarded the taxi in the northern English city and asked to be driven to the hospital, which was about 10 minutes away.

The blast took place within the car as it approached the drop-off point in front of Liverpool Women’s Hospital. The taxi driver was treated for injuries and released after medical attention.

The country has raised its national threat level to severe, with interior minister Priti Patel saying the blast was the second fatal incident in one month following the stabbing to death of lawmaker David Amess.

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Four men, who were arrested by the police in relation to the explosion, were released from custody, the police said late Monday.

Three of them, aged 29, 26 and 21, were arrested on Sunday and on Monday Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson of Counter-Terrorism Policing Northwest said another man aged 20 had been arrested.

The explosion occurred just before 11 a.m. on Sunday, when a Remembrance Day service to commemorate war dead was being held at nearby Liverpool Cathedral. Police are investigating whether the events are connected.

Police are searching two places associated with Al Swealmeen and have recovered significant items, Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Meeks said in a statement released by Greater Manchester Police.

“Now that we have released his name, any information that the public may have about Al Swealmeen, no matter how small, may be of great assistance to us,” he said.

Police carried out a controlled explosion earlier on Monday as a precaution at Sefton Park.

Jackson said it was unclear why the passenger had wanted to go to the hospital or what had caused the sudden explosion of the device.

Police also said they have recovered important evidence from an address at Rutland Avenue, adding it is becoming central to the investigation. Al Swealmeen had been picked up by the taxi from the Rutland Avenue area, according to the BBC https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-59287001.

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Earlier, Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson described the actions of the taxi driver as heroic. The BBC said he had locked the passenger inside the vehicle.

“It is important that the public remains alert to the threat from terrorism but not alarmed,” Patel said.

Read more: 3 arrested after car explosion kills 1 outside Liverpool, U.K. hospital

 

Click to play video: 'Liverpool taxi blast being treated as ‘terrorist incident,’ U.K. police say' Liverpool taxi blast being treated as ‘terrorist incident,’ U.K. police say
Liverpool taxi blast being treated as ‘terrorist incident,’ U.K. police say – Nov 15, 2021

The explosion engulfed the taxi in flames outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital just before 11 a.m. on Sunday, when a Remembrance Day service to commemorate war dead was being held at nearby Liverpool Cathedral.

“We cannot at this time draw any connection with this but it is a line of inquiry which we are pursuing,” said Jackson.

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Police also conducted a controlled explosion in a taxi outside the hospital on Monday, as “a precaution” and “as part of the ongoing investigation.” They said there is no wider risk to the public.

Three men aged 29, 26 and 21 were arrested on Sunday, and Jackson said on Monday another man aged 20 had been arrested. He added that “significant items” had been found at one address while several other addresses had been or would be searched.

He said the passenger had boarded the taxi at a location in Liverpool and asked to be driven to the hospital, which was about a 10-minute drive away. The blast took place within the car as it approached the drop-off point in front of the hospital.

Click to play video: 'U.K. raises threat level as Johnson tells people to be ‘utterly vigilant’ after Liverpool attack' U.K. raises threat level as Johnson tells people to be ‘utterly vigilant’ after Liverpool attack
U.K. raises threat level as Johnson tells people to be ‘utterly vigilant’ after Liverpool attack – Nov 15, 2021

The driver, named locally as David Perry, managed to escape from the car. He was treated in hospital and released.

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Jackson said it was unclear why the passenger had wanted to go to the hospital or what had caused the sudden explosion of the device.

Earlier, Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson described the actions of the taxi driver as heroic. The BBC said he had locked the passenger inside the vehicle.

“The taxi driver, in his heroic efforts, has managed to divert what could have been an absolutely awful disaster at the hospital,” she told BBC radio.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the driver’s “incredible presence of mind and bravery,” though he did not elaborate on the circumstances. Johnson planned to chair a meeting of the government’s emergency committee on Monday to discuss the blast.

— with files from The Associated Press and Global News

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