Counterterror police arrest three after fatal car explosion in Liverpool

UK counterterror police said they had arrested three men under the Terrorism Act in connection with an explosion in a car in Liverpool on Sunday that killed one person and left another seriously injured.

Counter Terrorism Police North West — which unites the counterterror operations of several forces in north-west England — said they had arrested men aged 29, 26 and 21 in the Kensington area of Liverpool in connection with the blast that occurred in a taxi outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital at 10.59am on Sunday.

However, police stressed that they retained an open mind about the nature of the incident and that it had not yet been formally declared to be terrorism.

The explosion killed the passenger of the vehicle, police said, but they had not yet formally identified the dead man. They added that the driver was injured and was in a stable condition in hospital.

CTPNW indicated it would give no further details of the incident before morning, unless further arrests were made or an urgent need arose to give the public information.

On Sunday evening the Sun newspaper reported that the name of the injured taxi driver was Dave Perry and quoted several people who knew him as saying he had jumped out of the taxi and locked it immediately before the explosion, keeping inside the man who died.

The blast occurred just as people around the UK were about to mark a two-minute silence at 11am in traditional Remembrance Sunday services to commemorate those killed in military conflicts.

Merseyside Police had earlier said they believed the car involved was a taxi, which had pulled up outside the hospital shortly before the explosion occurred.

Pictures of the scene showed a vehicle engulfed in flames and a column of smoke rising above the buildings of the hospital, on the edge of Liverpool city centre. Photographs were also circulated of a vehicle marked as belonging to the bomb disposal team of the British Army’s Royal Logistics Corps.

The arrests were made at an address on Boaler Street, within walking distance of the hospital. Police can apply to hold suspects arrested under the Terrorism Act for up to 14 days before charging them.

The arrests come less than a month after UK counterterror police deemed a previous incident — the killing of David Amess, the Conservative member of parliament for Southend West — an act of terrorism, with a suspected religious motivation. Ali Harbi Ali has been charged with Amess’s murder and is awaiting trial.

Any confirmation that the incident was being treated as terrorism would come from the national counter-terrorism command, part of London’s Metropolitan Police.

Prime minister Boris Johnson tweeted on Sunday evening that his thoughts were with those affected by the “awful incident” in Liverpool. “I want to thank the emergency services for their quick response and professionalism, and the police for their ongoing work on the investigation,” he wrote.

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