Parcel bomb terror spreads to county

By Ted JeoryA RANDOM campaign of terror that has seen dozens of homemade letter bombs sent to residents across the east of England has spread to Essex.

By Ted Jeory

A RANDOM campaign of terror that has seen dozens of homemade letter bombs sent to residents across the east of England has spread to Essex.

Police are linking a suspect parcel received by a resident in the Colchester area on Monday night with 25 others sent to people in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

With some packages containing dangerously inflammable liquid and lighting mechanisms, officers have warned Royal Mail workers, businesses and residents to be on their guard.

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Police and Army bomb disposal experts were called to a house in Hall Road, Copford, at about 8pm on Monday after a man received a suspect package.

He called Colchester police, who alerted the Army's Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team, which is based at Wimbish, near Saffron Walden.

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An Essex Police spokesman said the package had contained a powder-like substance, but an examination had concluded it was not dangerous.

The parcel is thought to have been handled by staff at the Royal Mail delivery office in Moorside, Colchester, before being delivered from its Marks Tey office.

The police spokesman urged the public to be on their guard and added: “In view of the current climate, we are asking residents, businesses and Post Office workers to be vigilant when anything unexpected arrives in the post.

“In particular, look for any padded white or brown envelope that may appear suspicious in either the way that it is packaged or any odour that it may emit.”

The spokesman said the Copford parcel was being linked with the 25 others sent to people living in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire during the past five days.

Senior officers said one man had suffered minor injuries after opening one of those packages, but warned the devices were “potentially deadly”.

They added 23 packages had been sent to addresses in Luton, one to an address in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, one to an address in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, as well as the one in Copford.

Ten of the packages had been intercepted at delivery offices in Luton and Milton Keynes and dealt with by police or bomb disposal officers, they said.

Detectives said there appeared to be no link between the recipients or intended recipients of the parcels. The majority were white men and there was only one person with an Asian name who had been targeted.

Detective Superintendent Nicky Dahl, of Bedfordshire Police, said officers had been in touch with the Metropolitan Police's anti-terrorist squad, but had found nothing to show there was any terrorist group connected to the letter bombs.

“We are still unsure of the motive behind these incidents, but I would like to reassure the public we are investigating several lines of inquiry and at this stage do not believe it is terrorists or race related,” he said.

“The victims in this case are clearly bewildered and confused as to why they have been singled out.”

Det Supt Dahl added the packages had started to arrive on Saturday and all contained first class stamps. All except one had been addressed to residential addresses.

One had been sent to a business address - and a package had also been sent to that recipient's home address.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: “Royal Mail can confirm that dangerous packages have been found in the mail system, mainly in the Luton area.

“The safety of our people and our customers is of the utmost importance and we continue to liaise closely with the police regarding these incidents.”

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