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 were also investigating a suspicious fire at a shop and reports of suspicious activity at the cricket ground in the historic city in southeast England. It was not known if the incidents were linked.

The package was discovered by a member of the public on a railway line, prompting emergency services to halt trains and lock down the centre of the city, a popular tourist destination famed for its ancient cathedral.

But Assistant Chief Constable Andy Adams of Kent Police said early Saturday that the package was a hoax.

"The first suspicious package on the railway line has been checked by army bomb disposal experts and is not... an explosive device," he said in a statement.

"We are satisfied it is in fact a hoax package designed to appear like a device. This is an extremely serious offence, and will be investigated thoroughly."

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.

It was not clear what caused the blaze, which was quickly extinguished after being discovered at 5:10 pm (1610 GMT) in the baby changing area on the shop's second floor, but police said they were treating it as suspicious.

Police were also 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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