Armed police have seized four men in a series of dawn raids to break up a suspected Islamist terrorist bomb plot. Police believe they may have disrupted a UK Christmas terror plot following the arrest of four suspects in Sheffield and Chesterfield.
A police bomb squad was called to a property in Chesterfield on Tuesday morning as detectives feared a gang of would-be terrorists had already assembled an explosive device.
Anti-terror police also targeted four properties in Sheffield in a joint move with MI5 to foil a planned attack. Three of the suspects, aged 22, 36 and 41, were arrested in Sheffield, while a 31-year-old man was held in Chesterfield.
A source told Sky News: “We won’t know exactly what we’ve got until we have finished searches of the suspects’ properties and electronic devices. But the timing of the raids may be significant and the use of the bomb squad clearly shows what police thought they might find behind the door.”
Neighbours of the Chesterfield property and local shopkeepers were evacuated to the nearby Proact Stadium football ground and the area was cordoned off. A further raid in Chesterfield at Whittington Moor has led to Cavendish Junior School keeping children inside as a precaution.
One of those evacuated was Jordan Batteson, who told Sky News he was “shocked and gobsmacked” to return from his night shift at work to see police vehicles lining his street. He said: “There’s never any trouble here, they’re all middle-aged mostly. It has been a massive shock to everybody. . . I had a quick look back at the van and saw a male, in his thirties, with no t-shirt on or anything, with shorts on or boxer shorts on.”
Three properties in Sheffield and one in Chesterfield are currently being searched in connection with these arrests.
Police said they were aware local people may have concerns as a result of the police activity in the area and are asking people to remain alert but not alarmed. They added that they were grateful for the assistance and understanding of people locally. Residents will be kept as informed as possible and officers are grateful for their understanding, patience and support while these enquiries continue.