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Updated: U.K. Threat Level Raised After Explosion Outside Hospital

Four men have been released without charge after being arrested in Liverpool, U.K., under the Terrorism Act after an explosion at a hospital in the city center on November 14.

The explosion happened shortly before 11 a.m. in a taxi outside the Liverpool Women’s Hospital. A large memorial service was scheduled to take place nearby at 11 a.m. to commemorate the fallen in the World Wars. Police and other emergency services immediately attended the scene and Merseyside Police is supporting Counter Terrorism Police in the investigation.

Investigations are ongoing but Counter Terrorism Police said the explosion went off inside the vehicle and was largely contained. It is believed that the passenger brought the device into the car with him when he was picked up at an address some ten minutes away, then detonated it as the taxi reached the hospital. The passenger died and the taxi driver managed to escape and has been treated in hospital for minor injuries.

On November 15, police said that they strongly believe that the deceased is 32 year old Emad Al Swealmeen. A Liverpool couple told Britain’s ITV News that Al Swealmeen was an asylum seeker who had lived with them briefly after his conversion to Christianity. The conversion ceremony was held at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, a close distance from the scene of the explosion at Liverpool Women’s Hospital. The couple also said Al Swealmeen had previously been sectioned under the Mental Health Act for about six months.

Police released the four individuals who had been arrested adding that investigating officers were satisfied with the accounts they provided. The investigation is also yielding information about the device used in the explosion and how the parts were obtained.

Merseyside Police said in a statement that it will continue to liaise with community groups, community leaders, partner agencies and individuals in the coming days and weeks to make sure any concerns are addressed.

“There will also be an increased and visible police presence on the streets of Merseyside and I would encourage people to engage with my officers and raise any concerns they may have.

“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.”

U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the national threat level has been raised from Substantial to Severe, meaning an attack is highly likely. The change is a precautionary measure and not based on any specific threat.

Counter Terrorism Police said the increased threat level activates an enhanced police response that is tried and tested, to ensure that the U.K. is well prepared and protected. Some of this will be visible and involve police officers being deployed to certain places, events and locations, which the British public can expect to see over the coming days.

This story was updated on Nov. 15.

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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