Two suspicious packages found in Exeter 'made safe'

Bomb disposal van
Image caption A suspect package was found beside the railings of St Sidwell's primary and nursery school

Bomb disposal experts have dealt with two suspicious packages in Exeter which prompted the evacuation of a school, homes and businesses.

Both devices were non-explosive, said Devon and Cornwall Police.

A suitcase with protruding wires was found attached to St Sidwell's school railings at about 07:00 BST and another was found in a city centre car park.

Both devices were "made safe" by bomb disposal experts with a controlled explosion used on one package.

Police said they were not treating it as a terrorist incident.

Armed police, fire crews and sniffer dogs were called in and everyone within 100m of the packages was evacuated from the area.

A large section of the city centre was cordoned off and there has been significant disruption to public transport.

Image copyright Patrick Clahane
Image caption Police cordoned off a large part of the city and people were evacuated to St James' Park football ground
Image caption Police evacuated St Sidwell's School breakfast club shortly after 07:00 BST and cordoned off the area

The first suitcase was found by St Sidwell's School caretaker, Brent Hibbs. A breakfast club was evacuated and the remainder of the 200 pupils and 42 nursery children arriving at the school were moved to safety.

Head teacher Kathryn Rowden said: "Our staff did an excellent job in evacuating the children quickly and efficiently. I cannot comment on the motive for this.

"But I would point out that St Sidwell's is a Church of England school and we have children of all faiths, and some with no faith, who learn together and play together very harmoniously."

Image copyright David Thompson
Image caption Bomb disposal experts used a robot to help assess the suspicious packages
Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Police, fire crews and bomb disposal experts have all been involved in the operation

A second suspect suitcase was found at the King William Street Car Park at about 09:15 BST.

That led to further road closures in the area and the evacuation of homes in and around the city centre.

Exeter, Mid and East Devon Commander Superintendent Keith Perkin said: "Today's events have caused considerable impact to residents and business across the city.

"We don't underestimate how difficult road closures and evacuations can be for local people, but safety of all our communities remains paramount."

Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Rolo the specialist search dog assisted the police with their investigations

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