Liverpool hospital bomber named as police arrest a fourth man after raids

British police have identified the suspect behind an explosion which engulfed a taxi in flames outside a hospital in Liverpool on Sunday, a blast the authorities have declared a terrorist incident.

olice say 32-year-old Emad Al Swealmeen, who was killed in the blast, boarded the taxi in the city and asked to be driven to the hospital, which was about 10 minutes away.

The blast took place within the car as it approached the drop-off point in front of Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

Police said the explosive device was home-made.

The driver of the cab, named locally as David Perry, was treated in hospital after fleeing the car just before it burst into flames, and has now been discharged.

He was praised by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for behaving with “incredible presence of mind and bravery”, and lauded for his “heroic efforts” by the mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson.

The BBC said he had locked Al Swealmeen inside the vehicle.

The country has raised its national threat level to severe, with interior minister Priti Patel saying the blast was the second fatal incident in one month following the stabbing to death of lawmaker David Amess.

The explosion took place just before 11am on Sunday, when a Remembrance Day service to commemorate war dead was being held at nearby Liverpool Cathedral. Police are investigating whether the events are connected.

Police were yesterday searching two places associated with Al Swealmeen and have recovered significant items, Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Meeks said in a statement released by Greater Manchester Police.

“Now that we have released his name, any information that the public may have about Al Swealmeen, no matter how small, may be of great assistance to us,” he said.

Police carried out a controlled explosion earlier yesterday as a precaution at Sefton Park, Liverpool.

Three men aged 29, 26 and 21 were arrested on Sunday, and yesterday Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson of Counter-Terrorism Policing Northwest said another man aged 20 had been arrested.

Mr Jackson said it was unclear why Al Swealmeen had wanted to go to the hospital or what had caused the sudden explosion of the device.

Speaking at a press conference at Downing Street yesterday afternoon, Prime Minister Mr Johnson said the blast was a “stark reminder” to the public to remain vigilant, adding: “What yesterday showed above all is that the British people will never be cowed by terrorism, we will never give in to those who seek to divide us with senseless acts of violence.

“And our freedoms and our way of life will always prevail.”

Speaking to journalists at Merseyside Police headquarters, Mr Jackson said: “It is not clear what the motivation for this incident is.

“Our inquiries indicate that an improvised explosive device has been manufactured and our assumption so far is that this was built by the passenger in the taxi.

“The reason why he then took it to the women’s hospital is unknown, as is the reason for its sudden explosion.

“We are of course aware that there were Remembrance events just a short distance away from the hospital and that the ignition occurred shortly before 11am. We cannot, at this time, draw any connection with this but it is a line of inquiry we are pursuing.

“Although the motivation for this incident is yet to be understood, given all the circumstances it has been declared a terrorist incident and counter-terrorism policing are continuing with the investigation.”

Officers in Liverpool were searching two addresses – one in Sutcliffe Street and a second at Rutland Avenue in Sefton Park – where “significant items” have been found, he said. A cordon was in place and eight families were evacuated as a result.

Investigators have “attributed” the passenger to both addresses but investigators are not yet sure where he lived. They are looking into his associates, telephone records and purchases he may have made.

Matthew Heitman (26), who lives opposite the raided house in Sutcliffe Street, said: “Two of the men were marched out at gunpoint and they had them up against the wall.

“There wasn’t any kind of struggle, they just walked out of the front. The people living there had not long moved in, maybe weeks or months.”

Another neighbour, Sharon Cullen, said she thought four men aged about in their 20s lived at the address. She said: “I don’t know any of them but one of them always seemed to be on a PC in his bedroom.

“The police pounded on my door and an officer said ‘we need to get you out of the house as soon as possible’.”

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