Chilling moment man plants IED in shopping centre in English city
Published 17/12/2015 | 18:58
Police in England have released CCTV images of a man they are hunting after the discovery of a suspicious device that ignited in a shopping centre toilet.
Shoppers had to be evacuated from the Fishergate Shopping Centre in Preston, Lancashire, after a member of the public found the device in the toilets at around 9.10am.
Lancashire Police said they are treating the incident as a criminal investigation and are appealing for anyone who knows the man - seen wearing a hat and carrying a bag and travelling up an escalator - to come forward.
The footage was taken in the city's St George's Shopping Centre just after 8.30am.
Bomb disposal officers were called to the Fishergate centre after management evacuated it as a precaution.
Police said they believe the incendiary device had ignited and could have caused "damage or injury".
The recovered device is now being analysed and appears to be a "crude improvised incendiary device".
A spokesman said: "While we believe the device had ignited, it did not cause any real damage and there were no injuries."
Detective Chief Inspector Jill Johnston said: "We are keen to speak to the man in this CCTV as we believe he could have information which could assist us.
"We are treating this as a criminal investigation and while the motivation for this incident remains unclear at this stage, we believe this device has been left there deliberately and did have the potential to cause serious injury if it had exploded.
"I would appeal to anyone who recognises this man, or who has any other information which could assist, to get in touch with us."
The Fishergate centre remains closed as searches are carried out.
Centre manager Keith Mitchell said staff had carried out a routine evacuation procedure and had worked closely with the emergency services.
He said: "The safety of our customers, colleagues and staff is paramount and centre staff carried out our evacuation procedure calmly and efficiently.
"We would like to thank all our customers for their help, understanding and patience and the emergency services for their professionalism during this incident.
"We are liaising with the police and working with them to get the shopping centre reopened and back to normal as soon as we possibly can."
Roads in the area have been closed and people are being asked to follow diversions.