Cambridge News Online | Published: 27/11/2010 00:00 – Updated: 26/11/2010 19:37
Written by Raymond Brown
A bomb alert was triggered after two students were arrested in a dawn raid.
Detectives swooped on a house in Lovell Road, Cambridge, sealing off the street at the Milton Road and King’s Hedges Road ends.
Residents were told to stay in their homes and had a tense four-hour wait after the drama began to unfold at 8am yesterday.
Two 17-year-old Scandinavian students, who were lodging with a family, were arrested in handcuffs after a warrant was issued to Cambridgeshire police under the Explosives Act.
Detectives had evidence that bomb making equipment had been ordered on the internet.
One line of inquiry, which was not ruled out by police, is that the incident may be linked to the recent student unrest over tuition fees.
A mother-of-three who rents out the room to the Scandinavian students was taken out of the property by police in her nightgown for her own safety as they made the raid.
The teenagers, arrested on suspicion of making explosives, were taken to Parkside police station. A bomb disposal team from the Royal Logistics Corps at RAF Wittering arrived at about 10am. Wearing a bomb blast safety suit and helmet, one expert entered the home and made it safe before bringing out suspected explosive materials.
The cordon was lifted just after noon. Detectives and crime scene investigators then entered the property and removed evidence.
Tensions were running high as the residents communicated with each other by phone.
One couple with a baby were allowed to leave their home, which was opposite the house.
Michael Barton, 72, said: “I saw one of the men being taken away in handcuffs. We were told to stay in our homes. The police did have a battering ram but they didn’t use it.
“The street was deathly quiet. Everybody was pretty keyed up. The police were really good. They had to knock on every door in the street to tell people to stay indoors.”
And one couple’s plans to emigrate to New Zealand were almost thwarted.
Valerie Wilson, 67, who lives two doors away from the property, said: “There were police everywhere. They told us to stay in our house because they thought there might be explosives.
“My son and his wife were just about to emigrate to New Zealand but we couldn’t leave the house or get out of the street. We were sitting waiting on tenterhooks. Thankfully, the blockade was lifted in time for them to leave.”
Mother-of-two Donna Hughes, 44, of King’s Hedges Road, took out cups of tea and coffee to officers manning the blockade.
She said: “It’s very scary. You just never know what’s going on around you. It’s such a quiet street and the houses are quite expensive. It’s all been shocking. You fear for your children when something like this happens.”
Charlotte Hadder, who owns Alder Lodge bed and breakfast in King’s Hedges Road, said: “The police told us they found explosives but I am not going to panic unless they start panicking.”
A police spokesman said: “A small quantity of chemicals has been discovered and removed. The cordon has been lifted and the road re-opened. Two 17-year-old boys remain in custody at Parkside police station.”