Arrest after two live pipe bombs found in north west London flat

Two live homemade bombs have been found in a flat that was being done up in north west London.

A man arrested after the two bombs were discovered said he was ex army, neighbours say.

Counter terrorism police have arrested a 48-year-old man after discovering the two ‘pipe bombs.’

The devices were found in the unoccupied flat in Harlesden just after 9.30am yesterday.

The man was taken to a south London police station and is not thought to have any links with terror groups.

Neighbours claim the flat has been unoccupied for years, with work being carried out inside over the past few months.

Residents were evacuated yesterday as the ‘improvised explosive devices’ were made safe.

They were kept outside for nine hours while specialist officers worked to deactivate the bombs.

A blue and yellow evidence tent remains outside the large detached house – with a police cordon in place on the driveway.

Detectives can be seen entering the building, which houses 12 separate flats.

Groups of officers can be seen patrolling the area around the roads near the flats, to ‘reassure the public’.

Police discovered the bombs in a flat just a quarter of a mile away from Harlesden Primary School.

The block in Craven Park was evacuated as the improvised explosive devices or IEDs were made safe.

Residents were allowed back home just after 6pm.

Counter terrorism detectives are “keeping an open mind” in the investigation following the arrest.

Scotland Yard said: “Detectives from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command investigating two devices that were found at an address in Harlesden have made an arrest.

“The 48-year-old man was arrested at a residential address in north London on Thursday, November 22 on suspicion of an offence contrary to section 4 Explosives Substances Act 1883.

“He was taken to a south London police station where he remains in custody.

“At this early stage of the investigation, detectives do not believe that the arrested man has links to any terrorist organisations, or that there are any ongoing public safety issues.

“Police were called to an address in Craven Park at 9.34am today to reports of two suspicious devices found in an unoccupied flat which was in the process of being refurbished.

“Officers attended the address and as a precaution, the block of flats was evacuated and local road closures put in place whilst specialist officers assessed the two devices.

“Initial assessment was that they were both improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

“The two devices were subsequently made safe and recovered from the flat and are now undergoing further forensic examination.

“Further searches were also conducted in and around the block of flats and the area has now been deemed safe.

“Cordons around the block of flats were lifted at approximately 6pm at which point residents were able to return to their homes.

“Officers remain at the flat where the devices were found as they continue to carry out enquiries.

“Given the nature of the devices recovered, detectives from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command are now leading the investigation.

“At this early stage, officers are keeping an open mind as to how or why the devices came to be there.”

Chief Superintendent Simon Rose, North West Command Unit said: “I’d like to thank local residents in the area for their patience and understanding whilst we dealt with this incident today.

“The public’s safety is our top priority, and I would like to pay tribute to the specialist officers who attended and were able to safely recover the devices.

“I also want to reassure the local community that we have carried out precautionary searches in the surrounding area to make sure there was nothing else of a similar nature nearby, which I’m pleased to confirm is the case.

“The next stage is to investigate how and why the two devices came to be in this flat and detectives from the Counter Terrorism Command will be leading this.”

Neighbours reacted to the discovery of the devices.

John Hamilton, 59, said: “The whole road was shut off yesterday with police everywhere.

“I was told to stay inside because police had found a dangerous package there in the flats.

“Police kept telling us, it is dangerous don’t go out there, it is dangerous.

“The flat upstairs at the front has been unoccupied for two years, you could see into it.

“Over the past several months workmen have been coming to and from the flat.

“They were Bulgarian and Romanian men, they parked their vans outside.”

Noor Ali, 29, said: “I was really worried yesterday when police knocked on my door.

“They came in to tell everyone to stay inside because a ‘package’ had been found.

“Later on police reassured everyone here in my own flat.

“I’ve seen Eastern European builders coming to and from that flat for months.”

Another resident said: “All different people are living in the flats, it don’t surprise me.

“Police found a pipe bomb there – that’s what they said yesterday.

“A mother and daughter were arrested in the last year for terror offences around the corner.

“They lived on Harlesden road – they were from the Middle East area.”

While Ethel Amoah, 44, said: “There is all sorts of trouble around here – shootings, stabbings and drugs.

“This is unusual though, I can’t see why they would operate in that flat with the police station around the corner.”

Scotland Yard said: “Detectives from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command have launched an investigation after two devices were found at an address in Harlesden.

“Police were called to an address in Craven Park at 9.34am today to reports of two suspicious devices found in an unoccupied flat which was in the process of being refurbished.

“Officers attended the address and as a precaution, the block of flats was evacuated and local road closures put in place whilst specialist officers assessed the two devices.

“Initial assessment was that they were both improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

“The two devices were subsequently made safe and recovered from the flat and are now undergoing further forensic examination.

“Further searches were also conducted in and around the block of flats and the area has now been deemed safe.

“Cordons around the block of flats were lifted at approximately 6pm at which point residents were able to return to their homes.

“Officers remain at the flat where the devices were found as they continue to carry out enquiries.

“Given the nature of the devices recovered, detectives from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command are now leading the investigation.”

By Tony Whitfield

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