Suspect package sparks alert

THE GLOBAL terror threat was brought home to East Anglia on Saturday when bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion in a town at the heart of the British civilian and American military communities.

THE GLOBAL terror threat was brought home to East Anglia on Saturday when bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion in a town at the heart of the British civilian and American military communities.

Police were tipped off at around 3pm that a suspect package had been spotted outside Mildenhall Magistrates Court, within a mile of RAF Mildenhall, home to thousands of US servicemen and their families and a strategically significant base in the war on terror.

A 100-metre cordon was immediately put up around the courtroom building, where a two foot square box wrapped in black plastic had been left.

The Bomb Disposal Service was notified and an expert team was quickly at the scene, which, after initial investigations with a remote controlled robot, carried out a controlled explosion, sending shockwaves throughout the small crowd gathered at the edge of the cordon.


You may also want to watch:


A spokesman for Suffolk police later confirmed the contents of the package appeared to have been nothing more sinister than a household cushion, and the scene was cleared and returned to normal by 5.30pm.

But the incident has highlighted the increased vigilance of the public in the wake of the London bombings.

Most Read

Police said this was the latest in a series of reports of suspected terrorist related activity across the county since the events of July 7, with several sightings of suspicious characters, usually wearing rucksacks in the vicinity of train stations, and unattended packages.

However, this is the first which has required military intervention, and in all other cases police have been able to establish legitimate explanations.

The explosion came as Suffolk Constabulary and Essex Police issued independent statements in the aftermath of the London terror attacks.

Suffolk police Acting Deputy Chief Constable Colin Langham-Fitt issued a statement to reassure Suffolk residents of the safety of living in the county.

He said: "Suffolk is a very safe county in which to live and work, but while we have no reason to believe that a major incident is likely to take place here, I would like to reassure the public that we constantly review our procedures and take all necessary steps to ensure that we are prepared to react quickly and effectively, should any incident occur."

He added: "The public has a very important role to play in the fight against terrorism, they are our eyes and ears.

"We need the public to tell us about any unusual behaviour or activities that they see, either in their own neighbourhood or where they work."

Essex Police urged people to be extra vigilant but also to be careful with their belongings and not to leave anything unattended.

The force is also keen to stress action will be taken against bomb hoaxes and racial crime.

An Essex Police statement said: "Bomb hoaxes are criminally irresponsible causing anxiety to the public and distracting emergency services from more important duties.

"Essex Police will thoroughly investigate such offences and will make every effort to bring offenders to justice.

"Any disorder or criminality focused on particular sections of the community will be met with robust, positive policing.

"Those committing racial crime can expect to be prosecuted and, if convicted, the potential penalties are high. Essex has excellent community relations and Essex Police will not tolerate anyone upsetting this."

Gerald Taylor-Balls of Mildenhall Parish Council said: "I think people are feeling edgy everywhere, but no more in Mildenhall than anywhere else, it's the uncertainty which is making people vigilant, and it's better to be safe than sorry."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus