Three men have been arrested under the British Terrorism Act after one man was killed and another injured when a taxi exploded in the parking lot of the Liverpool Women’s Hospital in England on Sunday morning.
“We are keeping an open mind as to what caused the explosion, but given how it has happened and out of caution, counterterrorism police are leading the investigation,” Chief Constable Serena Kennedy of the local Merseyside police department told reporters.
It has not been determined if the car exploded due to a bomb. The deceased has been described by law enforcement as a passenger in the taxi and the injured man was said to be the driver, who was reported to be in a stable condition.
Kennedy told reporters that people heard a “bang” before dark smoke wafted from the area at 10:59 a.m., just before a national moment of silence for Remembrance Day.
The taxi exploded right after it arrived at the hospital, which specializes in obstetrics, gynecology, and neonatology research, according to the hospital website. Photos and video from the scene showed the black vehicle completely engulfed in flames, with fire shooting up into the air.
The hospital was recently featured in the British Channel 4 series One Born Every Minute and is described as the largest hospital of its kind in Europe. Many of the patients were shuttled to other facilities as a precaution, according to a hospital spokesman.
Carl Bessant’s partner had just given birth when the blast happened.
“We were so close and she was feeding the baby when it happened. We heard a loud bang and looked out of the window,” he told the BBC. “We saw the car on fire and someone jump out… screaming, and there was someone inside the car.”
“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,” Kennedy said. “The emergency services have well-rehearsed plans for dealing with major incidents. Our response is ongoing at the hospital and will be for some time.”
Kennedy said her force had “triggered” the appropriate channels as they homed in on an address in the Kensington district of Liverpool before the arrest of three not-yet-identified men, aged 29, 26, and 21. “We would urge the public to remain calm but vigilant.” She gave no further information about their alleged involvement or if they knew the taxi driver, passenger, or someone at the hospital.
Well after dark, police were still massed on the street where the three men were arrested and officers with jackets emblazoned with “negotiator” were being brought in.