Residents evacuated as bomb squad close road
AN anti-terrorism inquiry relating to alleged religious hatred is still ongoing following arrests in Torquay.
The bomb squad closed off part of Lymington Road and neighbours were evacuated for seven hours as the arrests were made last week.
Two men, aged 20 and 18, were arrested, questioned and later released under section 41 of the Terrorism Act.
Police have revealed that alleged racist slogans had been sprayed on the Torquay Islamic Centre mosque in Avenue Road and at addresses in Brixham.
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Police are also looking at possible links to a spate of arson attacks in the Bay.
Lymington Road residents have been talking about the drama after they were evacuated from their homes on Thursday, January 3, while the road was cordoned off and explosives experts searched an address. They subsequently searched four other addresses elsewhere in Torquay.
No explosives or bomb-making equipment were found but information found in the house raised the alert.
Officers from the counter terrorism unit and the major crime investigation team were also involved.
Police insist there is no threat to the local community while the investigation continues.
Insp Adrian Leisk said: "We are working to reassure the local community and members of black and minority ethnic groups to support and safeguard them."
Det Sgt Andy Janes, of the major crime investigation team based at Ashburton, said: "Religious hatred is an element to the inquiry, which is still very much on-going.
"It is at an early stage and we are reviewing the situation on a daily basis.
"We are keeping an open mind over whether there is any possible link with recent arson attacks in the area."
Insp Leisk added: "Individuals were arrested in connection with some criminal damage offences in Torquay and Brixham.
"Concerns were raised after some material was found at an address.
"The criminal investigations continue.We are satisfied that there are no risks to the local community.
"The major crime investigation team was looking at the potential terrorism offences. We are also looking into some potential criminal offences."
Lymington Road neighbour Allison Liburd, who has two daughters, said: "It was awful actually. We had the knock on the door just before 11am and we were told to move out for a couple of hours.
"In the end we didn't get back in until about 5pm. We didn't know where to go. Luckily my eldest daughter has a car so we went and sat in the car.
"Luckily, the cafe over the road stayed open late and we managed to get something to eat."
Stephen Byrne, chef at the Community Cafe at Lymington Road coach station, said: "We stayed open late and told people they could come in and keep warm.
"Some were in their pyjamas and some had babies. We were crowded. Some people stayed all day.
"We were allowed to stay open but the taxi place and the Innovation Centre buildings either side had to close because they are all glass. We have a solid wall facing the road.
"We have had a nice card from the residents thanking us.
"We gave the emergency services drinks for nothing. The police were really good and reassuring everybody."