Bank siege man was carrying bomb

A man arrested after a three-hour siege at a bank was carrying a bomb, police said today.





Military and armed police surrounded the Co-operative bank, in Market Street, Watford, after the suspect threatened staff, Hertfordshire Police said.



A police spokeswoman said: "An explosive device of some kind - as yet we don't know what this is - has been removed from this individual."







Police said they secured the "successful arrest" after the man refused to leave the bank.



"Investigations into the nature of this device will continue," the spokeswoman said. "The suspect has been arrested and will be taken to police custody for interview."



The force said it was supported by specialist firearms experts in the military in making the arrest.











The man was forced on to his knees outside the bank as he was arrested by armed police officers, a picture published by the Watford Observer shows.



The black-haired suspect was wearing a short-sleeved white shirt and black trousers as he was held.



Sources said the incident was not thought to be terrorist-related.



Police were called to the bank at 10.18am to reports of a man threatening to harm members of staff.



Specialist firearms teams and military bomb disposal experts attended the scene in the centre of the town.



Witnesses described police marksmen aiming their guns at the bank and reported rumours that the man had a bomb strapped to his body.



Pat Sullivan, who works at local damp-proofing firm M Mansell, said police closed the main roads around the bank and the ring road, causing traffic to back up.



She said: "I've forced my way through the barriers to get in.



"There's so many people out there - the police, police cars, fire engines, press and, I guess, bomb disposal teams.



"There's groups of people out there just standing and waiting, the community is just wondering what's happening really. You can't walk out there because it's all cordoned off.



"The traffic's nose-to-tail because the police have closed most of the roads."



Hertfordshire Police said in a statement: "Safety of members of the public was paramount and a cordon was put in place and people were evacuated from nearby premises.



"There will be police activity in the town centre for a while to come. Understandably this caused concern within the community and we would like to thank members of the public for their co-operation in this matter."









Shop workers told of the panic when the area was evacuated by police.



Jacqui Bryan, from Edgware, who was working at Barratt Homes just behind the bank, said: "The police told everyone to move. We were just told to get out of the building. I thought it was a fire."



Ryan Saunders, 22, who was heading to work at nearby BHS at the time, said: "There were lots of people panicking, and then I saw the bomb disposal van speed past me. Everyone was desperate to get away."



His friend Michael Robinson-Collier, also 22, said: "It all kicked off as I was coming into town. I just saw all of the police rushing to the bank."



Local councillor Rabi Martin said: "As a ward councillor, I was anxious there was no threat to residents or staff. This is the last thing we want for Watford. But the main thing is that there were no casualties.



"The police reacted so quickly and decisively in evacuating the area. Watford town centre has so many different entrances for them to seal off, so their efforts were commendable."







A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: "Defence explosive ordnance disposal team supported the police in the incident, in accordance with normal military assistance procedures."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing