Anti-terror probe after Scottish forest blast

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The Independent Online

Counter-terror investigations were continuing today after an explosion in a remote forest.

A member of the public reported hearing the blast in the Garadhban forest area of Gartocharn, near Loch Lomond, on Wednesday.

Strathclyde Police are investigating damage to trees in the woodland area about 300 to 400 yards from Ross Priory.

They are being assisted by a small team of counter-terrorism officers in an attempt to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident.

The Northern Diving Group - the Royal Navy's equivalent of the bomb disposal squad - was also at the scene.

Last night, police continued to guard the entrance to Ross Priory and the surrounding area.

Chief Superintendent Calum Murray, Divisional Commander for Argyll, Bute and West Dunbartonshire, said: "As you would expect, when we are dealing with a situation where we suspect that explosives may be involved, it is our immediate priority to assess the situation and to call on expertise where we think it is appropriate.

"By its very nature, this type of assessment and investigation is complex and does take time. I can confirm that we are currently being assisted by agencies from across the UK.

"I would stress that the site is secure and that there is no risk to public safety.

"I would ask that if anyone has seen anything suspicious in or around the area, or has any information - no matter how insignificant it may seem - that they contact the police or Crimestoppers. All calls will, of course, be treated in the strictest of confidence.

"As I am sure you can understand, this is an ongoing investigation that is going to take some time to complete. We will release more information as that investigation progresses."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Strathclyde Police are currently investigating this incident and are keeping ministers informed of their progress. They have reassured us that there is no threat to public safety."

Ross Priory is a secluded 19th century building situated on the banks of Loch Lomond.

It is owned by the University of Strathclyde and is used for events including conferences, seminars and weddings.