Updated November 15, 2021, 3:35 p.m.
The threat level for TERRORISM IN THE UNITED KINGDOM has been raised to ‘serious’ which means that an attack is deemed highly likely, following yesterday’s deadly explosion at a hospital in Liverpool.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said the terrorist threat level had been increased because there had been two attacks in the space of a month.
Speaking to broadcasters, she said: “The Joint Terrorism Analysis Center, Jtac, is now increasing the UK threat level from substantial to serious.
And there is a reason for that, and that reason is that what we saw yesterday is the second incident in a month.
Yesterday’s explosion in a car outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital came minutes before a Remembrance Sunday service at nearby Liverpool Cathedral.
This sparked speculation that the event was the intended target, with police labeling it as a “terrorist incident”.
Russ Jackson, head of the area’s counterterrorism police, said it was unclear what was behind yesterday’s taxi explosion, but the device was “built by the deceased” passenger.
Patel said the attack had a “very big impact on the whole community” in Liverpool and his thoughts were with the people of the city.
“A live investigation is underway right now. They will need the time, the space to do the job that they are doing in terms of investigating the incident, ”she said.
Patel said the “backdrop” of two terrorist incidents in the span of a month was “really important” in the decision to increase the UK’s threat level.
She added that she could not expand “for obvious reasons”.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference this afternoon that the attack outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital was “disgusting”.
“What showed above all yesterday is that the British people will never be intimidated by terrorism, we will never give in to those who seek to divide us through senseless acts of violence,” he said.
Johnson added that the public should be “vigilant” after the heightened level of the terrorist threat in the UK.
Police said the passenger who died in yesterday’s attack built the device, but reported that the taxi driver driving the vehicle could have prevented the bomb from reaching its target.
Jackson said at a press conference, “We can’t make any connection to this at this time, but it is an avenue of inquiry that we are pursuing.
“Although the motivation for this incident is not yet understood, considering all the circumstances, it has been declared a terrorist incident.”
Three men, aged 21, 26 and 29, were arrested under the Terrorism Act shortly after the explosion in the city’s neighboring Kensington neighborhood and were questioned.
A fourth man, 20, was arrested earlier today, Jackson said, adding that “important items” were found at a second address in Sefton Park, near Kensington.
The explosion and fireball sent thick smoke into the air just seconds before the UK fell silent in tribute to its war dead and veterans at 11 a.m.
There was immediate praise for the taxi driver, who allegedly locked the passenger – a man – inside the cabin after being suspicious of his intentions.
The passenger had wanted to go to the annual service of the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool, according to British media citing investigators and friends of the taxi driver.
But road closures forced the taxi to take a detour and they ended up at a nearby hospital, where the bomb went off just after the driver escaped, the Daily Mail reported.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said moments before the press conference that it would be premature to comment in detail on the incident as the investigation is ongoing.
“But it appears that the taxi driver in question behaved with incredible presence of mind and bravery,” he told reporters in London.
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Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson said: ‘The taxi driver, in his heroic efforts, managed to deflect what could have been an absolutely horrific disaster at the hospital.
“We knew the taxi driver had stood out and locked the doors, we knew that very early on,” she told BBC radio, while warning of further speculation.
Jackson gave few details but said the taxi driver picked up the passenger in the Kensington area and asked to be taken to hospital.
“As the taxi approached the drop-off point at the hospital, an explosion occurred inside the car. It quickly engulfed it in flames,” he added.
Remarkably, the taxi driver escaped from the cabin. He was treated for the injuries he sustained and is now discharged from the hospital.
2000 at the cathedral
Some 2,000 people attended the remembrance service, one of the largest outside London, according to the Liverpool Echo newspaper.
The event ended with a military parade on the closed roads outside the cathedral.
Senior Conservative politician Oliver Dowden said the driver’s actions contrasted with “the cowardice of the terrorist attacks”.
“It is clear that we will have to see exactly what happened there,” the ruling party co-chairman told Sky News, stressing that information on the driver’s response had to be confirmed.
“But if that is the case, it is another example of true bravery and courage,” said Dowden.
The scene at the hospital remained cordoned off on Monday, as were the streets around the two properties under investigation, where white-robed forensic scientists were seen.
© – AFP 2021 with the report by Rónán Duffy