Counter-terror police have arrested three men after a taxi exploded outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
A passenger was killed in the blast, while the driver was being treated for injuries in hospital.
Friends hailed him as a “hero” amid unconfirmed reports that the man noticed an explosive device after picking up a passenger on Remembrance Sunday and “locked the scumbag in the car”.
Police were called to the explosion at 10.59am, shortly before the 11am silence observed to commemorate members of the armed forces.
A statement said the taxi had pulled up at Liverpool Women’s Hospital “shortly before” the blast.
Footage from the scene showed a man, believed to be the driver, being helped into the hospital by staff as his car burned metres away.
In a Facebook group used by private hire drivers in Liverpool, friends of the driver said he had “legged it” just in time.
“He is a hero, when he noticed the bomb he locked the scumbag in the car but took the brunt of the blast,” one man wrote.
“He’s had his ear sewn back on, got burns and shrapnel wounds and other pretty serious injuries.”
Police confirmed that a man, who was a passenger in the taxi, was declared dead at the scene and said the injured driver was in a stable condition in hospital.
Investigators have not yet announced whether they are treating the blast as a terrorist incident, or confirmed the target.
Liverpool Women’s Hospital is a short distance from the city’s cathedral, where a service of remembrance attended by thousands of military personnel, veterans and members of the public was taking place at the time.
The annual event included a two-minute silence, which is observed nationally on Remembrance Sunday, at 11am followed by a military parade from the cathedral.
A spokesperson for Counter Terrorism Police North West said: “Detectives continue to keep an open mind about the cause of the explosion and are working closely with colleagues at Merseyside Police as the investigation continues at pace.”
The men, aged 21, 26 and 29, were detained in the Kensington area of Liverpool under the Terrorism Act and were being questioned in custody overnight.
Searches were also seen being carried out in Rutland Avenue, Toxteth, in connection with the blast.
Merseyside Police chief constable Serena Kennedy said there would be an increased police presence in Liverpool over the coming days.
“I would encourage people to engage with my officers and raise any concerns they may have,” she added.
“It is also important that, at this very early stage, people do not speculate about what has happened. We will endeavour to update our communities as soon as we are able.”
Liverpool Women's Hospital said visiting access had been restricted “until further notice” and patients had been diverted to other hospitals “where possible”.
In a statement, the hospital said: “We are reviewing our patient activity for the next 24-48 hours and patients should wait to be contacted for updates about any planned appointments or other attendance at the hospital.
“Our staff are being permitted to leave and enter the hospital under the supervision of Merseyside Police.
“We would like to say thank you for the cooperation and support of our patients, visitors and staff who have been impacted by this incident, in particular those members of staff who were at the scene at the time of the incident.”
In a statement posted on Twitter, the prime minister said: “My thoughts are with all those affected by the awful incident in Liverpool today.
“I want to thank the emergency services for their quick response and professionalism, and the police for their ongoing work on the investigation.”
Priti Patel said she was receiving regular updates on the incident.
The home secretary added: “Our police and emergency services are working hard to establish what happened and it is right they are given the time and space to do so.”
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