Britain raises terror threat level as man killed in bomb blast named Emad Al Swealmeen

British authorities raised the country’s threat level to its second highest level today after police said one blast in a taxi outside a Liverpool hospital was caused by a homemade bomb.
Investigators said they treated Sunday’s explosion – which killed the suspected bomber and injured the taxi driver – as a terrorist incident, but that the motive was unclear.
Counter-terrorism police named the dead man as 32-year-old Emad Al Swealmeen.
The moment the suspected bomb detonated in the taxi.
The moment the suspected bomb detonated in the taxi. (Included)
The driver managed to escape as others rushed to his aid.
The driver managed to escape as others rushed to his aid. (Included)
Emergency services outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital after the blast. (AP)

They did not provide further details, although media in the UK reported that he had not been on the radar of the security services.

The Joint Terrorism Analysis Center raised the UK threat level from significant – meaning an attack is likely – to serious, meaning it is highly likely, following Britain’s second fatal incident in a month.

Conservative politician David Amess was stabbed to death in October in what police said was an act of terrorism.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the “suffering attack” on Liverpool Women’s Hospital and told reporters that the British people “will never allow themselves to be cowed by terrorism.”

“We will never give in to those who seek to divide us with senseless acts of violence,” he said.

The male passenger in a taxi was killed and the driver injured when an explosion broke through the vehicle as it stopped outside the hospital Sunday morning (local time).

Police and forensic pathologists are conducting a fingertip search at Liverpool Women's Hospital.  A man was killed when the taxi he was driving exploded outside the hospital.
Police and forensic pathologists are conducting a fingertip search at Liverpool Women’s Hospital. A man was killed when the taxi he was driving exploded outside the hospital. (Getty)
An armed police officer holds a breaking shotgun used to blow up the hinges of a door, at an address on Rutland Avenue in Sefton Park, after an explosion at Liverpool Women’s Hospital killed one person and injured another. (AP)

Russ Jackson, head of Counterterrorism Policing in the north-west of England, said the explosion was caused by “ignition of an explosive device” which was brought into the vehicle by the passenger.

Three men in their 20s were arrested on Sunday elsewhere in the city under the Terrorism Act, and a fourth was detained on Monday.

All are believed to be “associated” with the dead passenger, police said.

Suspicion of a motive for the explosion has been raised by the timing – just before 11am on Remembrance Sunday, the moment when people across the UK hold services in memory of those killed in wars.

Jackson said investigators had not found a link to memorial events, “but it is a line of inquiry we are pursuing.”

“Although the motivation for this incident is not yet understood, given all the circumstances, it has been declared a terrorist incident,” he said at a press briefing.

He said the passenger had been picked up by the cab 10 minutes drive away and asked to be driven to the hospital where the explosion took place.

The driver, named by local media David Perry, managed to escape from the car.

He was treated at the hospital and released.

Police said officers had searched two addresses in the town linked to the passenger – one where he had lived and another he had recently rented – and found “significant items” at the latter.

Officers carried out a controlled explosion “as a precaution” as part of the investigation.

Emergency services outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital after the bomb blast. (AP)
Russ Jackson, Head of Counterterrorism Policing in the North West of England and Merseyside Police Chief, Constable Serena Kennedy during a press conference in Liverpool. (AP)

Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson said the taxi driver had locked the doors to his cab so the passenger could not walk.

Police did not confirm this report.

“In his heroic efforts, the taxi driver has managed to redirect what could have been an absolutely horrific disaster at the hospital,” Anderson told the BBC.

The prime minister also said the driver appeared to have behaved “with an incredible presence of mind and bravery.”

Nick Aldworth, a former senior terrorism investigator in the UK, said the taxi appeared to have sustained “a lot of fire damage with very little explosion damage.”

He said that “whatever was in that vehicle was either a low yield, or working properly, or possibly an arson. So I think it’s very open to debate at the moment about what happened.”

Britain’s official terrorist threat level was lowered from “serious” to “significant” in February.

It has been serious most of the time since 2014 and has briefly risen to “critical” in the midst of a wave of violent attacks in 2017.

The Joint Terrorism Analysis Center determines the level of threat based on intelligence on international terrorism at home and abroad.

Britain has over the years experienced attacks from both Islamic and right-wing extremists, including a suicide bombing in May 2017 at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester that killed 22 people.

Sir. Amess was stabbed to death on October 15 while meeting with voters in what police said was a terrorist act carried out by a supporter of the Islamic State group.

His killing came five years after Labor co-founder Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death by a right-wing extremist.

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