Bomb hoax sparks security alert in Britain's Canterbury

27th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

British army bomb disposal experts were called in to the city of Canterbury and the centre was partly evacuated after the discovery of a suspect package, but the device was a hoax, police said Saturday.

Police also launched an investigation late Friday into a small fire in a shop and suspicious activity at the cricket ground in the historic city in southeast England.

The package was discovered by a member of the public near the railway station, prompting emergency services to stop trains, close roads and lock down the centre of the city, a popular tourist destination famed for its ancient cathedral.

But police said in a message on Twitter early Saturday that it was not an explosive device.

"We can now confirm that the suspect package on the railway line is not an explosive device, but an elaborate hoax," said a message from Kent Police on Twitter.

The force added that it was "designed to look like an explosive device. It will now be forensically examined."

Police were called to a second incident at a branch of food and clothes retailer Marks and Spencer where a small fire had been discovered, although they said it was unclear whether the two incidents were linked.

It was not clear what caused the blaze, which was discovered at 5:10 pm (1610 GMT) in the baby changing area on the shop's second floor, and quickly extinguished.

Police said that they were checking "reports of suspicious activity" at Canterbury cricket ground, where the Indian team earlier played Kent as part of their tour of England.

No injuries were reported at any of the incidents.

© 2011 AFP

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