Exeter city centre has been the focus of a potential bomb scare after police were alerted to two suspicious packages found in the city.
St. Sidwell’s School and Exeter Mosque were evacuated while a bomb squad carried out investigations, with the evacuation area extending as far as the city bus station. Following the discovery of a second package on King William Street, Sidwell Street was been completely evacuated, including John Lewis.
The first suspicious package was discovered at 6.55am on York Road, with a robot device subsequently sent by the Royal Navy bomb disposal squad to investigate. At 9.15am, the discovery of a second package led to further areas being cordoned off and ongoing disruption to bus services in the city.
Police have now confirmed that a controlled explosion took place at 12.54pm, believed to be that of the first suspicious package at the York Street site. The 200m cordon around this area is still in place, while the cordon on the second package remains at 100m.
Latest reports now suggest that the second was detonated at 1.23pm, following witness accounts of another loud explosion sound in the area.
A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “We are asking people to avoid the area and be prepared – there’s going to diversions in place for quite a long time.”
Update 30/06: Police have now confirmed that they have found the man responsible for the placement of the two suitcases.
Described as a “local hoarder”, the man had left the two suitcases containing various wires and electronics, “completely innocently” on York Street and King William Street.
According to police, there was “no malicious intent”.