Posted by Nick at 2:31 AM
It may not seem like a potential terrorist target, but the town of Banff on the North East coast of Scotland yesterday had a bomb alert. A Royal Navy bomb disposal team came through from Aberdeen behind motorcycle outriders, and police shut off the lower part of the town after someone reported seeing bomb making materials inside a local property.
There are many possible terrorist targets in the NE of Scotland; an hour's drive from Banff and you'll hit the industrial estate at Dyce. Several oil companies have bases there (BP, Schlumberger, etc.) There are the heliports at Dyce which fly oil workers offshore day and night, as well as the airport itself, and there's always the St. Fergus gas plant, any of which could be attacked with potentially catastrophic consequences.
I drove through Banff this morning and there were still a few police cars on the go, and the bobbies were taking a right close look at anyone in the area. The house which had been raided by the police yesterday was still cordoned off. And annoyingly, Tescos was shut till 10 o'clock, so I couldn't get a paper and a pink of milk!
It turns out that the police have someone in custody who is helping them with their enquiries, as they say. Someone who apparently has the know-how to make a bomb, and who was flying an English flag in the lobby of his house. Where bomb-making materials were reportedly found. And there was an English flag hanging in the house, I've seen a photo of that. There's no question that is correct. (You can see the photo here.)
The story does appear to be that there was no terrorism per se here though. It's being reported in the local press that the incident was part of a "local feud". That may end up being the case, but the swift reponse of the authorities to a bomb alert shows that there are procedures in place should there ever be an AQ type of event in the NE of Scotland. And the fact that there are bomb disposal teams, SORT teams and such resources all available throughout the shire at a handclap shows that the higher-ups think such resources could be needed one day. Anyone driving through the industrial estate at Dyce heading for the airport will no doubt agree. All those resources came in very handy yesterday.
Update: It's now being reported that a 19 year old male has been arrested in connection with this incident, but no more details are being made available to the public at this time about the suspect. It's a small town though, and word about who the guy was and what his game was will no doubt get out soon enough. At the moment all you're hearing are cracks about two of the local pubs being shut (not considered to be a good thing at all) and people having to go back to school (the local residents were evacuated to Banff Academy.) The other joke (and that's all it is) is that the suspect must have downloaded an AQ instruction manual from the internet then nipped across the road to Tescos to buy the so-called "materials", but the lassie behind the till had noticed the rather unusual items in his shopping cart and shouted over to the local bobbies who (as per their SOP) had wandered over to Tescos from the station just ben the road to buy sandwiches and sweeties. At least they hadn't far to go to arrest the boy. There's also a rumour that a barricade went up on the bridge so that panicking Banffers couldn't escape across to Macduff ... but that's just a rumour, honestly ...
Update on Sunday morning: The police still have a car outside the suspect's property this am, which is rather strange if they're only dealing with a single person who they have already apprehended.
Sources: Press and Journal, Scotsman, Banffshire Journal, BBC.
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