Emad Jamil Al Swealmeen, 32, was killed after a homemade ball-bearing device exploded inside a taxi he rode to Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Remembrance Sunday just seconds before the 11am minute’s silence
A Christian couple who opened their home to the Liverpool suicide bomber for eight months after he converted from Island told of their shock last night after learning he launched a suicide bomb attack at the city’s Women’s Hospital.
Enzo Almeni, 32, was killed after a homemade ball-bearing device exploded inside a taxi he rode to Liverpool Women’s Hospital just seconds before the 11am minute’s silence.
Almeni, a failed asylum seeker with Syrian and Iraqi heritage who changed his name by deed poll from Emad Jamil Al Swealmeen to sound more Western, fled the Middle East several years ago and converted from Islam to Christianity in 2017 at the cathedral it is believed he wanted to attack.
He spent most of his time in the UK in Liverpool, and spent eight years living with devout Christians Malcolm and Elizabeth Hitchcott at their home in Aigburth.
Last night Mr Hitchcott, a former British Army soldier, said he felt ‘numbed’ to learn that the ‘lovely man’ who lived at his home for eight months was behind the plot. ‘It’s almost too impossible to believe,’ he told the Daily Mail. ‘There was nothing to suggest he could go on to become radicalised.’
He said Almeni had been arrested for possession of a ‘large knife’ after the rejection of his asylum claim in 2014, resulting in him being sectioned under the Mental Health Act and hospitalised for several months.
The couple described their ‘shock’ that Almeni – a ‘very quiet fellow’ – would try to commit an act of terror, telling ITV News they lived ‘cheek by jowl’ when he stayed with them at their home and that there was ‘never any suggestion of anything amiss’.
A tearful Mrs Hitchcott told the broadcaster: ‘What a waste of a life. But the one thing I suppose to be thankful for is that he did not kill anyone else.’
Mr Hitchcott said Almeni rejected Islam and converted to Christianity and was baptised and confirmed in Liverpool Cathedral in March 2017.
‘He first came to the cathedral in August 2015 and wanted to convert to Christianity,’ Mr Hitchcott told MailOnline. ‘He took an Alpha course, which explains the Christian faith, and completed it in November of that year. That enabled him to come to an informed decision and he changed from Islam to Christianity and was confirmed as a Christian by at least March 2017, just before he came to live with us. He was destitute at that time and we took him in.’
It is thought Almeni had wanted to attack the cathedral on Remembrance Sunday as 1,200 military personnel, veterans and families of the fallen gathered to observe the minute’s silence – but that traffic and road closures stopped him from getting there. It is believed he died after being locked in a cab by Mr Perry as it exploded into a fireball outside the hospital.
Detectives and MI5 spies are investigating whether the bombing was an Islamist-inspired attack. Security sources said Almeni’s mental health problems were ‘a key line of inquiry’ in understanding his motivation.
Police said Almeni was picked up in the Rutland Avenue area of the city. As the car reached the hospital’s passenger drop-off point, it exploded.
Police said he had been living at a hostel for asylum seekers – run by private contracting giant Serco – in Sutcliffe Street, Liverpool, ‘for some time’ before renting a ‘bomb factory’ two miles away in Rutland Avenue.
Four men arrested under terrorism laws in the Kensington area of Liverpool – three aged 21, 26 and 29, who were held on Sunday, and a man aged 20 who was detained on Monday – have now been released from police custody following interview, Counter Terrorism Police North West said on Monday night. MI5 is assisting police with the investigation.
Meanwhile, forensic officers continued the delicate task of searching the ‘bomb factory’ from where Almeni booked the taxi. Eight nearby homes have been evacuated, and officers on Monday carried out a controlled explosion on an item taken from the property in nearby Sefton Park in what they described as ‘a precaution’.
Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Meeks of Counter Terrorism Police North West said: ‘Our enquiries are very much ongoing but at this stage we strongly believe that the deceased is 32-year-old Emad Al Swealmeen.
‘Al Swealmeen is connected to both the Rutland Avenue and Sutcliffe Street addresses where searches are still ongoing. We believe he lived at the Sutcliffe Street address for some time and had recently rented the Rutland Avenue address. Our focus is the Rutland Avenue address where we have continued to recover significant items.
‘We continue to appeal for any information about this incident and 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.’
The UK’s terror threat level was raised to ‘severe’ following an emergency COBRA meeting at Downing Street. Police and security services advised the Prime Minister that another attack on British soil is now ‘highly likely’. It came exactly a month after Conservative MP Sir David Amess was fatally stabbed during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.
At a Covid press briefing yesterday, Boris Johnson dramatically urged the country to be ‘vigilant’ and called the blast a ‘stark reminder’ of the risks of terrorism.
Home Secretary Priti Patel cancelled a planned trip to Paris to discuss the Channel migrant crisis so she could be briefed on the Liverpool bombing.
Here’s what we know about the terror attack so far:
- Taxi containing suicide bomber pulled up outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital and explodes at 10.57am;
- New footage shows the driver, David Perry, jump out after the blast having apparently locked the doors to prevent him getting into the hospital;
- Three men aged 21, 26 and 27, are arrested with two properties around a mile from the scene being searched by police: Sutcliffe Street in Kensington;
- Yesterday a fourth suspect, 20, was arrested in Kensington, also under the Terrorism Act;
- Armed Police surrounded a property in Rutland Avenue close to Liverpool’s Sefton Park last night, where the suicide bomber had been picked up from;
- Officers evacuated neighbouring properties, suggesting this is where the IED was built. The police activity reduced at 3.30am but the street remains cordoned off;
- MI5 are helping police in the north-west with an Islamist terror attack among the scenarios being investigated;
- One theory police are probing is that the detonators on a potential bomb exploded but not the main charge. Experts tell MailOnline that the bomb was probably not a high explosive such as TNT but of a hydrocarbon substance, most likely petrol.
Al Swealmeen pictured with Malcolm and Elizabeth Hitchcott, the couple who took him in after he left the Middle East
Friends said Almeni was born Emad Jamil Al-Swealmeen to a Syrian father and an Iraqi mother, and is believed to have spent a large part of his life in Iraq
Al Swealmeen arrived in the UK several years ago, and mostly lived in Liverpool, where he was being supported by Christian volunteers from a network of churches who help asylum seekers, it is understood
Al Swealmeen pictured on the right being converted to Christianity in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral in 2017
Al Swealmeen pictured with Malcolm Hitchcott who took him in after Almeni left the Middle East for the UK several years ago
Hero taxi driver David Perry (with his wife Rachel), who apparently locked a suicide bomber in his car before a blast ripped through the vehicle outside a maternity hospital in Liverpool on Sunday
This is the moment the taxi carrying an alleged suicide bomber exploded outside a Liverpool hospital in what police and MI5 are now probing as a Poppy Day terror attack
A bomb squad has carried out a controlled explosion near a house in Liverpool this evening raided in connection to a suicide bombing outside a hospital on Remembrance Sunday. It is understood the explosion in Sefton Park was done ‘as part of the ongoing investigation into the terrorist incident’ outside the Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Sunday just before 11am and that residents ‘shouldn’t be concerned’
This is the moment armed officers raided a property in Sutcliffe Street Liverpool with one marksman scaling the back wall with a ladder and pointing it at a man leaving the back door.
A squad of armed officers were heard telling the suspects to ‘get on the floor’ and ‘don’t f***ing move’ before taking three men away
Boris Johnson urged the public to be ‘vigilant’ after the UK terror threat level was raised to severe following a blast outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital
Police at the sealed off house in Sutcliffe Street where three men were arrested last night and another suspect nearby
A male was arrested in the area close to the house in Sutcliffe Street, Kensington. It is not known if he is the fourth suspect held by police over the taxi bombing
These are the events that led to the explosion outside the Liverpool Women’s Hospital and the arrests and raids that followed
The taxi is seen travelling into the hospital car park at a fair speed at just before 10.57am, at a time when the driver may have chosen to lock the doors to keep his passenger inside having become suspicious of him
Before the car can come to a halt, it explodes, with all the windows shattered by debris from the blast
Smoke billows out of the car. Friends of the driver have said that he became suspicious of the man he had on board
A dazed Mr Perry is seen opening the door around six seconds after the blast. He is lucky to be alive and his passenger is likely to be dead
By 10.59am the car was fully alight and Mr Perry had been carried away by a member of the hospital security team
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 (pictured) at Liverpool Women’s Hospital seconds before the 11am Remembrance Sunday silence began
Did you know Enzo Almeni, aka Emad Jamil Al-Swealmeen?
Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson said on Monday night: ‘Following interviews with the arrested men, we are satisfied with the accounts they have provided and they have been released from police custody.
‘The investigation continues to move at a fast pace with investigative teams working throughout the night.
‘We have made significant progress since Sunday morning and have a much greater understanding of the component parts of the device, how they were obtained and how the parts are likely to have been assembled. We have also recovered important evidence from the address at Rutland Avenue which is becoming central to the investigation.
‘There is a considerable way to go to understand how this incident was planned, prepared for and how it happened. We are gaining a better understanding by the hour but it is likely to be some time, perhaps many weeks until we are confident on our understanding of what has taken place.’
Mr Hitchcott exclusively told MailOnline: ‘He was Syrian through his father but I gather he spent much of his life in Iraq, where his mother came from.
‘As far as I can recall, we never spoke in any great length about the situation in Iraq and Syria, we may have touched on it once or twice but he gave nothing away about what he felt about it.
‘I don’t think he ever went back to Iraq or Syria. I know that he had a brother who lived in Dubai and often spent time between there and Iraq. Enzo used to send him money.
‘He was good company. We would sometimes go on days out, myself, Enzo and my wife Marion visited Speke Hall on one occasion and took some nice images together.
‘But his behaviour changed ever so slightly towards the end of the period he lived with us. He stated to ask odd questions. I remember he came into the kitchen once and said: ‘Is there anything you want to ask me?’
‘I was a bit taken aback and replied ”no, why do you ask? You’ve been here six months.” He then showed me a letter addressed to him that had been torn at the top of the envelope and he accused me of opening it to see what was inside.
‘But I hadn’t at all. The envelope was torn as as it had been pushed through the letter box. I showed him a letter addressed to me that had been torn in the same way but I don’t think he was completely convinced. Myself and my wife went on holiday in November 2017 and told Enzo he could stay at our house while we were away but he said he wanted to leave and get his own place.
‘He left and we had little contact with him from then on in. Apart from when he invited us to a Christmas carol concert in December 2017 at the Williamson Tunnels.’
He added: ‘My wife saw him before lockdown and he seemed to be in very good spirits. He said that he’d enrolled in a catering course specialising in cake decorating at a college in Liverpool. The fact that he’s blown himself up in a taxi in a terrorist attack has really shocked me. As far as I knew his only interest was go-karting and Formula 1.’
POPPY DAY HOSPITAL EXPLOSION: HOW EVENTS UNFOLDED ON REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY
A picture shows the burnt out vehicle outside the Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Sunday afternoon
Sunday, November 14
10.57am: The taxi pulls up at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital and explodes seconds later.
10.59am: The vehicle is fully engulfed just before the national silence for Remembrance Sunday.
The passenger was killed and the driver was left with serious injuries. The latter is said to have spotted the explosives, ‘jumped’ from the car and locked the other man inside.
At the time, a remembrance service involving scores of military personnel, veterans and civic dignitaries, was taking place at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral less than a mile away. There are reports the taxi parked at the hospital because it could not get any closer to the Cathedral.
11.04am: Police and emergency services arrive at the scene, and it is initially thought the car might have caught alight because of a fuel leak.
1pm: Officers, who are believed to have spoken to hero taxi driver David Perry, announce the incident is being treated as an act of terrorism.
4.54pm: Police seal off Rutland Avenue (right). Around a mile from the blast. Locals said armed police ordered residents to leave and head to a nearby leisure centre, saying the area ‘wasn’t safe’ and were ‘pointing guns at a house’. Counter-terror negotiators were also called to the scene.
6.59pm: The men – aged 29, 26, and 21 – were detained in the Kensington area of the city and arrested under the Terrorism Act.
Monday, November 15
3.30am: The operation at the Rutland Avenue address appears to wind down.
10am: Footage of the explosion emerges on CCTV from the scene.
Midday: Police confirm it is being treated as a terror attack. And a man, 20, becomes the fourth suspect arrested
3pm: After raising the UK terror threat level to ‘severe’, speaking at a press conference at Downing Street, the Prime Minister 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.’
At the centre of the intense police operation yesterday was the ‘bomb factory’ where Al Swealmeen put together his defective bomb.
Officers descended on Rutland Avenue within two hours of Sunday’s explosion. The property on Rutland Avenue, a tree-lined road in a smart area consisting of many large Victorian houses split into flats, was cordoned off by 1pm.
At this stage, neighbours did not see much sign of police activity. One local resident described the man at the centre of the case as a ‘foreigner’ who had only moved in about two or three weeks ago and had lived alone.
Investigators examining Al Swealmeen’s phone records quickly identified ‘associates’ and an address on Sutcliffe Street, almost three miles across the city in the Kensington district, which was a hostel for asylum seekers.
Police blocked off all roads leading to the hostel, and trained searchlights on the property as darkness fell. A witness filmed a police marksman armed with an assault rifle scaling a rear wall with a ladder. Three men were later arrested at the hostel.
At Rutland Avenue, activity intensified over Sunday afternoon and evening. It is not clear when officers realised one of the flats in the semi-detached property was a bomb factory, because nearby neighbours were not evacuated until the evening.
At 8pm, one of them watched as ‘two officers in protective vests marked with ‘Negotiator’ arrived on the scene’. He added: ‘About six or seven police cars, each with two officers, arrived. They said they were armed police and we can’t leave our homes.
‘We have been told to keep away from the windows, and if people were out, they can’t come home.’
By 11.30pm on Sunday, eight families living in the next-door addresses were evacuated. Taxis and at least two minibuses arrived to take the residents to alternative accommodation.
By the early hours of yesterday, armed officers had entered the three-storey villa.
One resident who lives behind the house – which is split into four flats – described seeing police ‘shining red lasers towards the upstairs rear window’. A tenant who rented a flat in the building 15 years ago said the ground- floor studio apartment had access to a ‘small concrete-walled bunker, like something from the Second World War’.
Later yesterday officers yesterday carried out a controlled explosion in nearby Sefton Park on an item taken from the property in what they described as a ‘precaution’.
Witness Frances Evans said police officers formed a human shield around a black van, which was driven in to the middle of the park before she saw a puff of smoke.
‘They made this big ring to make sure nobody came near the park,’ she said. ‘They were probably about 50 metres from the van.’
Searches have been proceeding with extreme caution due to the ‘challenging environment’, sources said. Police said Al Swealmeen had ‘recently’ rented a property in the building.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson of Counter Terrorism North West said they know the identity of the taxi passenger and believe that he made the bomb.
He said: ‘It is not clear what the motivation for this incident is. Our enquiries 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. Our enquiries will now continue to seek to understand how the device was built, the motivation for the incident and to understand if anyone else was involved in it’.
Investigators have ‘attributed’ the bomber to both the addresses but police are not yet sure where he lived, and last night at 9.45pm anti-terror officers forced their way into the front and back of the Sutcliffe Street house as they tried to establish if he was a lone wolf or part of a cell.
Suspects were seen with their hands up in the rear yard, as officers trained their rifles on them and told them to get on the floor. Matthew Heitman, 26, who lives opposite the raided house, said: ‘Two of the men were marched out at gunpoint and they had them up against the wall. The people living there had not long moved in, maybe weeks or months.’
Another neighbour, Sharon Cullen, said she and her husband, 22-year-old daughter and two-year-old grandson were evacuated from their home. She said: ‘The police pounded on my door and an officer said ‘we need to get you out of the house as soon as possible’. They said ‘whatever is going on at the back of the house, it could blow the block’. It was really frightening.’
Mr Perry has been credited with saving many lives after keeping the suspect inside his cab in the moments before it blew up. His wife has revealed he is ‘doing ok but is extremely sore’, while adding that his escape was an ‘utter miracle’.
Rachel Perry wrote on Facebook: ‘I would just like to thank each and every one of you who has messaged asking how David is. He is doing ok but is extremely sore and trying to process what’s happened.
Detectives say the male passenger who died in the blast had asked to go Liverpool’s Women’s Hospital, around ten minutes drive from his home in Rutland Avenue, which police have sealed off. They also evacuated eight neighbours overnight amid fears it was being used as a bomb factory.
Friends of Mr Perry believe the target may have been the city’s nearby Service of Remembrance at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, where 1,200 military personnel, veterans and families of the fallen had gathered less than a mile from the hospital. Roads around the cathedral had been closed before the 11am Poppy Day event.
Mr Perry escaped to safety a split-second after a small blast blew out the windows and before flames spread through his vehicle.
New video and white smoke suggests the suicide bomb failed to explode due to a faulty detonator, says 7/7 cop
One theory police are probing is that the detonators on a potential bomb exploded but not the main charge.
That would be a repeat of the failed 21/7 bombings three weeks after the 7/7 atrocity in 2005.
David Videcette, a former 7/7 counter-terror detective at Scotland Yard, tweeted: ‘Any type of explosion in a confined space is devastating, here it blows out the windows and sends the entire windscreen into the sky.
‘This makes obvious that the seat of the blast is where the taxi passenger was, and not the front where the driver was. The white smoke indicates the explosion was fuelled by some type of explosive, the fire then takes hold and the smoke changes colour as it consumes the car.
‘Improvised Explosive Devices have various components, with each having to operate in the correct order, at a desired point, for there to be an explosion. Sometimes the components don’t operate in order or when desired.
‘It’s possible what we see here is a detonator explosion that has failed to set off the main charge’.
Nick Aldworth, a former counter-terrorism national co-ordinator, said the timing of the blast was ‘significant’ but it was ‘very much open to debate at the moment about what has happened’.
Professor Clifford Jones, visiting professor at Chester University, told MailOnline: ‘It seems to me that the heat, not the blast, was the lethal factor. That signifies that the bomb was composed not of a high explosive such as TNT but of a hydrocarbon substance, most likely gasoline.’
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that from what he has seen there is ‘very little blast damage’ indicating that whatever was in the vehicle was ‘low yield or didn’t work properly, or possibly an incendiary’.
Friends said Mr Perry had become alarmed when his passenger started ‘flashing’ and vibrating’ as he pulled up – evidence of the device malfunctioning, experts said.
Miraculously, the driver suffered just minor cuts and bruises as well as damage to an eardrum and was discharged from hospital.
Mr Perry was hailed a ‘hero’, with well-wishers donating more than £50,000 to help replace his cab. His wife said the family’s overwhelming emotion was that he was ‘lucky to be alive’.
CCTV has emerged capturing the horrifying moment Mr Perry’s taxi became a fireball outside the reception of Liverpool Women’s Hospital, shortly before the 11am two-minute’s silence was due to take place on Sunday.
The dark-coloured taxi is seen pulling into the hospital car park at speed but it explodes before it comes to a halt outside the reception. All the windows shattered and smoke pours out of the car before a dazed Mr Perry opens the driver’s door and staggers out into the road around six seconds after the blast.
The injured taxi driver then appears to warn others to stay away from the car and there has also been praise for a man in high-viz yellow who runs towards the blazing taxi to help him. Around 30 seconds after the explosion, with smoke belching out of the car, it is engulfed by flames with the bomber still inside. One witness can be seen looking into the back seat passenger. He decides the passenger is dead and can’t be saved.
Police are scrambling to discover the bomber’s true target. If it was the hospital, Dr Joseph Downing, a fellow in nationalism at LSE who studies security and terrorism, told MailOnline: ‘It’s quite strange and a worrying new pivot towards such a ‘soft’ target as a hospital that we have not seen before in Europe.’
If Mr Perry did lock the doors, yesterday’s terrifying video makes him look even braver, as he may have decided to stop the suspect entering the hospital’s reception, even if it cost him his own life.
A friend of married father-of-two Mr Perry, 45, said that he believed that the cathedral was the target but traffic and road closures led to the passenger, who has not been formally identified, asking the driver to park at the nearby Liverpool Women’s Hospital instead. If he locked him in, David appears to have stopped the man targeting the hospital as the clock struck 11am.
One theory police are probing is that the detonators on a potential bomb exploded but not the main charge. That would be a repeat of the failed 21/7 bombings three weeks after the 7/7 atrocity in 2005.
David Videcette, a former 7/7 counter-terror detective at Scotland Yard, said: ‘Improvised Explosive Devices have various components, with each having to operate in the correct order, at a desired point, for there to be an explosion. Sometimes the components don’t operate in order or when desired. It’s possible what we see here is a detonator explosion that has failed to set off the main charge’.
The Prime Minister has praised the taxi driver caught up in the Liverpool explosion for acting with ‘incredible presence of mind and bravery’.
Speaking at a medical centre in east London on Monday, Boris Johnson echoed the city’s mayor Joanne Anderson in crediting the driver.
Mr Johnson said: ‘It does look as though the taxi driver in question did behave with incredible presence of mind and bravery.’
The investigation into the Remembrance Sunday explosion outside a Liverpool hospital is continuing.
A friend said: ‘David noticed the man had some kind of light attached to his clothing and was messing around with it, it didn’t look right at all. They couldn’t get there, the roads were blocked off.
‘The man changed his mind and asked to go to the city centre instead. But when they were going past the Women’s Hospital he said to pull in there. It was just before 11. David noticed the man had some kind of light attached to his clothing and was messing around with it, it didn’t look right at all.
‘I don’t know how he’s done it with a split second’s thought but David’s jumped out and locked the car with this guy in the back. As soon as he did, it’s gone off. If this guy got in the hospital God knows what could have happened. David’s the luckiest man in Britain as well as the most heroic’.
Heavily armed police, one holding a breaching gun used to blast the hinges off doors, were seen at an address in Rutland Avenue near Liverpool’s Sefton Park on Sunday night as officers investigated an explosion at the city’s Women’s Hospital at 10:59am
An investigator wearing a white forensics suit and carrying a jerry can and funnel was seen outside the hospital. Two fire engines were parked in the hospital car park near a blue forensics tent.
Police activity in Sutcliffe Street in the Kensington area of Liverpool, where three men, aged 21, 26 and 27, were arrested last night. They appear to be focussing on a property next to the Sir Walter Raleigh pub
Armed police were earlier pictured at Boaler Street, Kensington, and Rutland Avenue near Sefton Park as officers closed the roads with vehicles and cordons
Residents were ordered to remain inside while near neighbours were evacuated but some of the locals appeared to be inside the cordon (pictured)
Footage posted online showed a car engulfed in bright orange flames outside the maternity hospital in Liverpool on Sunday,
The explosion took place at Liverpool Women’s Hospital. A short walk from the Remembrance Day Service at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral. There were three arrests at Sutcliffe Street in Kensington and a police operation at Rutland Avenue, where armed officers swarmed around a Victorian block of flats
Hospital bosses are urged to review security measures in the wake of Liverpool terror attack
Hospitals were urged to review their security measures last night after the Liverpool bomb attack.
Although there is nothing to suggest any linked attacks are planned, bosses at England’s 213 NHS trusts have been told to make sure staff are aware of what to do in the event of a terrorist incident.
In an email to staff at a London hospital, seen by the Daily Mail, workers have been told to ‘remain vigilant’ and familiarise themselves with existing security arrangements.
They have also been invited to attend a free ‘action counters terrorism’ course.
Similar guidance is being sent to staff at hundreds of hospitals in England – but NHS England stressed this is standard procedure when the UK’s terror threat level is raised.
Miraculously he suffered just minor cuts and bruises as well as damage to an ear drum. Last night he was discharged from hospital, insiders told MailOnline, while bomb squad including experts from the Army remained at the hospital.
Another friend added: ‘David suffered cuts and bruises, a perforated ear drum and needed stitches in his ear. He’ll be sore in the morning but he’s home. I’m just glad no new babies were leaving at the time. For David to have probably been terrified and think so fast and then end up OK – it’s amazing.’
Locals said armed police ordered residents to leave, saying the area ‘wasn’t safe’ and were ‘pointing guns at a house’. Residents of the street were given five minutes to grab some belongings before being evacuated. The operation appears to have ended at around 3.30am and the cordon remains in place.
Carl Bessant, whose partner had just had a baby at the hospital, said: ‘She was feeding the baby when it happened. We heard a loud bang and looked out of the window.
‘We saw the car on fire and someone jumped out… screaming, and there was someone inside the car. The hospital shut down, no-one in or out, so they said, but people were using the back entrance.’
Sections of Boaler Street and Sutcliffe Street remained cordoned off, with a heavy police presence at the scene as inquiries continued.
A similar police scene was in place at Rutland Avenue several miles away in Sefton Park, with a large number of armed officers seen in the neighbourhood.
Locals said police arrived from about 1pm as officers went on to guard a terraced property as the immediate surrounding area was cordoned off. Around 11:30pm, witnesses said roads were being evacuated, with taxis and at least two minibuses arriving at the scene to take residents to alternative accommodation.
Shortly before 10pm Ryan O’Neill tweeted that armed police ‘pointing guns at the house’ gave him five minutes to pack and leave Boaler Street with his partner and children.
Counter-terror negotiators were also called to the scene and facilities for residents were being set up in a nearby leisure centre.
Police early Monday said: ‘A large cordon is in place on Rutland Avenue in Liverpool and a small number of addresses have been evacuated as a precaution. This is part of our ongoing enquiries into the car explosion outside the city’s Women’s hospital on Sunday morning.’
Labour frontbencher Jonathan Ashworth apologises for sending condolences to Liverpool suicide bomber’s family saying he thought a member of the public had died instead
A Labour frontbench MP has apologised for sending his ‘condolences’ to the family of a suicide bomber who blew up a taxi outside a hospital in Liverpool on Remembrance Sunday.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth told Sky News of his horror at the explosion outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital when he made the embarrassing gaffe.
‘Absolutely shocking that that would happen anywhere, but particularly outside a women’s maternity hospital,’ he told the broadcaster. ‘Obviously we pay our respects and send our condolences to the family of the man who lost his life. I just want to thank the emergency services for the way they responded.’
Amid uproar on social media this afternoon, the MP for Leicester South apologised on Twitter, insisting he had ‘misread the news ticker’ and had ‘thought a member of the public had now died’.
Footage filmed from the hospital showed the car burning fiercely as voices can be heard gasping in shock. A shocked man is seen holding his head in his hands before being led away by hospital staff.
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.’
Social media was last night flooded with praise for the taxi driver’s heroism.
Stephen Thomas said online: ‘He is my mate, and he spotted the passenger acting suspicious. He’s in hospital, luckily he escaped just before, but he did suffer some injuries.’
Kev Cuthbertson also wrote on Facebook: ‘He is a hero, when he noticed the bomb he locked the scumbag in the car but took the brunt of the blast.’
Billy Darwin added: ‘I’ve heard he has injuries, so on behalf of us all on here I wish this Liverpool hero a speedy recovery.
‘He put his life on the line and nearly paid the ultimate price to save others – apparently not giving anything a second thought besides making sure he went above and beyond to keep the people of our city safe.’
Marie Davies said: ‘He stopped by the women’s hospital and locked the man in his cab after noticing the device.’
Phil Garrigan, chief fire officer of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, said the car fire 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.’
Counter terrorism police launched an investigation into the explosion with raids carried out and a bomb squad (pictured) on site
A close friend of Mr Perry’s told MailOnline the family believe the original target was the Remembrance service: ‘The passenger asked David to go to the cathedral (pictured) so we believe that was the intended target. But they got stuck in heavy traffic so the passenger asked to go to the hospital instead’
Armed police were pictured outside two addresses on separate streets in Liverpool as officers closed the roads and residents were ordered to remain inside
In a statement, North West Ambulance Service said: ‘At 10.59am today we were called to reports of a car explosion [at Liverpool Women’s Hospital]. 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.’
In a statement, the hospital, which was featured on the hit Channel 4 series One Born Every Minute and looks after around 50,000 patients a year, 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.’
Women were told to avoid the hospital over the next 24 hours unless directly contacted by staff and told to attend their appointments.
Counter Terrorism Police are leading the investigation, supported by Merseyside Police, a spokesman for the force confirmed
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