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Three men have been arrested as part of a terror probe after one person died and another was injured when a taxi pulled up and exploded at Liverpool Women’s Hospital seconds before the 11am Remembrance Sunday silence began.
The men, aged 29, 26 and 21, were arrested under the Terrorism Act in Kensington, Liverpool, police said.
Armed police were earlier pictured at Boaler Street, Kensington, as officers closed the roads with vehicles and cordons and residents were ordered to remain inside.
Officers also sealed off Rutland Avenue near Sefton Park in Liverpool just after 1pm in a raid thought to be in connection with the explosion.
Reports claimed police negotiators were in a stand-off with suspects at the site after armed officers swarmed the street.
One Kensington resident, 21, said: ‘They grabbed two men and handcuffed them behind their backs. One looked Iranian.’
Chris Lee, 31, said: ‘They were bundled into the van. They had grabbed them from one of the houses. I had never seen them before.’
Witnesses said the men were arrested just after 4pm.
Police earlier said the explosion, reported at 10:59am, ‘has not been declared a terrorist incident at this stage’ as they urged the public to remain calm, but vigilant.
The car passenger, a man, was declared dead at the scene and is yet to be formally identified. The driver, also a man, was injured and is being treated for injuries which police said are ‘not life threatening’.
Earlier, a spokesman for Merseyside Police said: ‘So far we understand that the car involved was a taxi which pulled up at the hospital shortly before the explosion occurred.
‘Work is still going on to establish what has happened and could take some time before we are in a position to confirm anything.
‘We are keeping an open mind as to what caused the explosion, but given how it has happened – out of caution – counter terrorism police are leading the investigation supported by Merseyside Police.
‘Our response is ongoing at the hospital and will be for some time. Cordons are in place, and there are some road closures.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘My thoughts are with all those affected by the awful incident in Liverpool today.
‘I want to thank the emergency services for their quick response and professionalism, and the police for their ongoing work on the investigation.’
Home Secretary Priti Patel said she is being updated on the ‘awful incident’. Liverpool’s Mayor Joanne Anderson said the news was ‘unsettling and upsetting’, adding: ‘My thoughts are with those affected.’
Pictures being shared on Twitter are reported to show the car in flames outside Liverpool’s Women’s Hospital
Armed police were pictured outside two addresses on separate streets in Liverpool as officers closed the roads and residents were ordered to remain inside
Armed police were earlier pictured at Boaler Street, Kensington, and Rutland Avenue near Sefton Park as officers closed the roads with vehicles and cordons and residents were ordered to remain inside
Rutland Avenue near Sefton Park (pictured) and Boaler Street in Kensington were blocked by police vehicles and cordons, witnesses said
Police officers were seen searching multiple addresses following the explosion moments before the nation fell silent for Remembrance Sunday
Counter terrorism police launched an investigation into the explosion earlier today with raids carried out and a bomb squad (pictured) on site
A picture shows the burnt out vehicle outside the Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Sunday afternoon
Locals described hearing a loud bang and seeing smoke rising from the hospital grounds just before 11am.
Father-of-two Matt Kerr, 52, said: ‘I had just sat down to watch the Remembrance Sunday service as my family have served in the army when I heard a bang.
‘I did a double take and just wondered what it was. I looked out and saw smoke, then there were police everywhere and helicopters.
‘It’s scary to think someone might have wanted to hurt women and children.’
Mother-of-one Emily Makefield, 32, said: ‘I was walking nearby when I heard a bang and saw the smoke. It’s terrifying this could happen at a women’s hospital. It’s shocking.’
Shop worker Sandra Hughes, 35, said: ‘I saw people being turned away from hospital and police everywhere. It’s terrifying to think someone might have wanted to attack a hospital.’
Liverpool Women’s Hospital said it has restricted visiting access to the hospital ‘with immediate effect and until further notice’.
Where possible, patients have been diverted to another hospital, a spokesman said, and staff are currently allowing ambulances to access the hospital in emergencies.
Staff are being permitted to leave and enter the hospital under the supervision of Merseyside Police. Some patients were evacuated from the site.
In a statement, the hospital said: ‘We are reviewing our patient activity for the next 24-48 hours and patients should wait to be contacted for updates about any planned appointments or other attendance at the hospital.
‘Our staff are being permitted to leave and enter the hospital under the supervision of Merseyside Police.
‘We would like to say thank you for the co-operation and support of our patients, visitors and staff who have been impacted by this incident, in particular those members of staff who were at the scene at the time of the incident.’
Officers along with crews from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and the North West Regional Ambulance Service attended the city centre site.
Phil Garrigan, chief fire officer of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, said the car fire at Liverpool Women’s Hospital was ‘fully developed’ when two appliances arrived shortly after 11am.
He told reporters at the scene: ‘The operational crews extinguished the fire rapidly but as has been reiterated by the police chief constable, there was one fatality.
‘Another individual had left the vehicle prior to the fire developing to the extent that it did. Our thoughts are with them and the families of those involved.’
In a statement, North West Ambulance Service said: ‘At 10.59am today we were called to reports of a car explosion @LiverpoolWomens. We were on scene by 11.04am.
‘One person has died and another person was treated for serious but not life-threatening injuries, before being taken to hospital. Follow @MerseyPolice for more.
‘Patients and visitors of @LiverpoolWomens are advised to visit liverpoolwomens.nhs.uk for the most up to date information. Our thoughts are with all affected.’
Counter Terrorism Police are leading the investigation, supported by Merseyside Police, a spokesman for the force confirmed.
A spokesman for Merseyside Police told MailOnline it could take ‘some time’ to confirm what happened but that a major incident had been declared.
‘We can confirm that at 10.59am today (Sunday, 14 November) police were called to reports of a car explosion at the Women’s Hospital in Liverpool city centre,’ the statement said.
‘Police immediately attended, along with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and the North West Regional Ambulance Service.
‘Unfortunately, we can confirm that one person has died and another has been taken to hospital where he is being treated for his injuries, which thankfully are not life threatening.
‘So far we understand that the car involved was a taxi which pulled up at the hospital shortly before the explosion occurred.
‘Work is still going on to establish what has happened, and could take some time before we are in a position to confirm anything.’
Counter Terrorism Police are leading the investigation, supported by Merseyside Police, a spokesman for the force confirmed
Police and firefighters were spotted outside the Liverpool Women’s Hospital, alongside a bomb disposal vehicle
Army personnel were pictured at the scene in Liverpool on Sunday evening after an explosion killed one and injured another person seconds before the nation fell silent for Remembrance Sunday
Police attended the incident, along with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and the North West Regional Ambulance Service
Pictures taken at the scene show smoke billowing into the sky, while a video picked up banging noises while firefighters arrived at the scene
The spokesman added: ‘We are keeping an open mind as to what caused the explosion but given how it has happened, out of caution, Counter Terrorism Police are leading the investigation supported by Merseyside Police.
‘The emergency services have well-rehearsed plans for dealing with major incidents. Our response is ongoing at the hospital and will be for some time. Cordons are in place, and there are some road closures.
‘We have triggered our information channels – to inform the local community and businesses about what information we do have and can provide
‘We would urge the public to remain calm (but vigilant). To keep updated on what is happening, keep watching the news and checking the Merseyside Police website.
‘We would like to thank the public for their patience and their cooperation today which has already greatly assisted our policing response.
‘We will issue updates as soon as we have more information.
‘This has not been declared a terrorist incident at this stage although out of caution CT detectives are leading as we try to understand the circumstances behind the explosion.’
Ms Patel said: ‘I am being kept regularly updated on the awful incident at Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
‘Our police and emergency services are working hard to establish what happened and it is right they are given the time and space to do so.’
Images of a vehicle on fire, and later burnt out, at the scene earlier were shared online.
Footage of a number of explosions and billowing smoke outside the hospital were also shared as a bomb disposal unit attended.
A police helicopter was also seen circling the area outside a hospital where a car had reportedly exploded