Controlled blast after house raid

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The Independent Online

Bomb disposal experts will carry out a second controlled explosion at a home today after police discovered more "suspect" materials.

Officers from the Explosives Ordnance Disposal team returned to the quiet cul-de-sac in Bristol last night after detectives were granted seven days to hold a 19-year-old terror suspect, named locally as Andrew Ibrahim.

The teenager, who was understood to have recently converted to Islam, was arrested yesterday after covert inquiries prompted by an intelligence tip-off.

An Avon and Somerset Police spokeswoman said detonation was postponed as officers awaited the delivery of sandbags to minimise the impact of the blast.

Around 30 people from Comb Paddock, in the Westbury-on-Trym area of the city, where Ibrahim lived alone, are facing a third night away from their homes after a cordon was extended around the area.

Avon and Somerset Police said more evacuations could take place early today.

Neighbours had originally been evacuated on Thursday ahead of a first controlled explosion outside the house.

At a press conference the force, who refused to officially name the suspect, did not rule out further arrests.

Police now have until 1.40pm next Thursday - a week after his arrest - to hold the suspect.

Neighbours described Ibrahim, who they said had not been in the house long, as heavily built and often seen wearing traditional Muslim dress and carrying a satchel.

Others said they had confronted him about "loud chanting" just a few days ago.

Representatives of Bristol's Muslim community voiced their support for police.

Local Muslim leader Farooq Siddique said Ibrahim was "not known" to Bristol's Muslim community.

He said: "This is obviously a very difficult time for the Muslim community in Bristol. It is a blow to community relationships in the city.

"We want the police to be allowed to do their jobs as simply and as quickly as possible. We need to be united in this."

Sources, who claimed to have worked with Ibrahim, said he had endured a "difficult few years" and had been "unsettled".

The source, who said he believed Ibrahim had recently enrolled on a course at the University of the West of England, said: "He was struggling in life but I had no idea he had become a Muslim before I saw him two weeks ago.

"I could not believe my eyes. He was dressed in full robes and had a beard. He must have undergone a massive change in identity."

The bomb disposal team was initially called to the suspect's home to carry out a controlled explosion outside the house, a nondescript 1950s red-brick terraced house, at around 2am yesterday.

Neighbours heard a loud blast and were given letters informing them about the arrest.

Assistant chief constable Jackie Roberts also revealed that the man was not arrested at the house but somewhere else in the city.

"This is a genuine incident which we are taking extremely seriously," she said.

She confirmed that the man lived on his own at the address but said officers had not ruled out the possibility that he was acting with others.

She added: "At this stage I cannot rule out that he was acting alone or that there won't be further arrests.

"Obviously we are in the early stages of this investigation, extensive inquiries are ongoing and obviously things will unfold as the days go by."

Police also revealed that the man had previously come into contact with officers.

Assistant chief constable Rod Hansen, who is leading the operation, confirmed that a container was removed from the home earlier in the day, covered in sandbags and taken to a safe location before being destroyed.

Mr Hansen said: "A controlled explosion occurred outside the suspect's house at Comb Paddock to minimise the damage to the immediate area.

"A 19-year-old man remains in custody at an unidentified location where he will be interviewed by specialist officers."