Suspicious package shuts down Birmingham city centre

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Part of a city centre was evacuated and cordoned off today after a suspicious package was posted through a letterbox.

West Midlands Police said officers were called to a building in Lionel Street, Birmingham, at 10.15am.

A spokesman said: "As a precaution, the building along with a number of others in the area have been evacuated and police have closed Lionel Street, Constitution Hill, Livery Street and surrounding areas.

"The army bomb disposal unit have been contacted and are on their way to the scene."

Police said a mandatory exclusion zone of around 300 yards was in place, adding that "dozens" of officers were at the scene.

A nearby railway line was closed between Snow Hill station and the Jewellery Quarter.

British Waterways also closed a stretch of canal running through the city.

Superintendent Sue Southern said: "The road closures and evacuations are a precautionary measure that we need to undertake until we have established what the package contains."

Police said the address at the centre of the scare was the Refugee Council building.