'One guy came out. They gave him some gas and took him away'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It was the sound of breaking glass in the dead of night that betrayed the presence of 250 police officers to the residents of Lansdown Road, a quiet Victorian terraced street in London's East End.

After armed police broke a window to gain access to houses 46 and 48, residents drew back their curtains to find dozens of officers in body armour, some even wearing chemical, biological and radiological protection suits, lining the pavements.

"There were civilian guys wearing normal clothes and big armed units like they were going to war or something," said Salum, 25.

Nimish Patel, 14, said that after the sound of a shot being fired, "one guy came out ... [and] was moving and he was dizzy. They gave him some gas and took him away."

Police cordoned off surrounding streets while they searched the properties and prevented residents from returning to their homes.

Neighbours said a Bengali family of seven lived at numbers 46-48, two homes joined together. A friend said the 23-year-old shot by police had become more religious since the 11 September attacks, praying five times a day.

Dimple Hirani, 21, who went to school with him, said he used to be a "Westernised rude boy". But: "After 9/11 his appearance changed a lot. He grew a long beard and started wearing traditional clothing. But that doesn't mean anything, lots of lads do."

As forensic scientists conducted a fingertip search of the property yesterday and workmen erected a two- storeyscreen to cover the house, the feeling locally was a mixture of bemusement and anger.

Forest Gate has been home to large immigrant communities since the Second World War. Many of those who formed the Irish community have moved out, to be replaced by Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sikh Punjabis and eastern Europeans.

"If they are terrorists we don't want them in our neighbourhood," said Abdullah Aziz, 40, a local estate agent. "But I hope they've done their homework. If the police have shot the wrong guy again, it's going to cause very big problems around here."