A taxi exploded at the drop-off area of Liverpool Women’s Hospital just before the national two-minute silence was due on Remembrance Sunday, caused by an improved explosive device made by the passenger who was killed in the blast.
Head of Counter Terrorism Policing North West, Russ Jackson’s statement claimed: “As the taxi approached the drop-off point at the hospital an explosion occurred from within the car. This quickly engulfed it in flames.” He said police were “aware there were Remembrance events just a short distance away from the hospital and that the ignition occurred shortly before 11am” but “cannot at this time draw any connection.”
David Perry, the driver, locked the suspect inside the vehicle before narrowly escaping. Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson said Perry had made “heroic efforts” to avert what could have been an “awful disaster,” and Boris Johnson praised his “incredible bravery”. Perry had been treated for his injuries and had since been released from hospital.
Officers from Counter Terrorism North West are leading the investigation, supported by Merseyside Police and MI5. Jackson said police knew the identity of the attacker but would not confirm it at this stage. While the exact motivation remains unclear, he said officers were looking at his telephone records and purchases made.
Four men aged 20, 21, 26 and 29 who Jackson said were believed to be “associates” of the passenger were arrested in the Kensington area of Liverpool under the Terrorism Act. All four men in custody are being interviewed by counter-terrorism detectives for a possible motive.
Jackson said two properties in Liverpool “attributed” to the passenger were raided by armed officers about two hours after the blast. The first raid happened at about 13:00 on Rutland Avenue, where “significant items” were found, and the second operation took place an hour later around Sutcliffe Street where a cordon remains in place outside a terraced house and eight families have been evacuated from their homes. The addresses were searched overnight, and further searches are due to take place later by officers.
The Terror threat has been raised to “severe”, meaning another attack is highly likely. Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired an emergency Cobra meeting this afternoon in response to the explosion, Downing Street said.