Thursday 11th August, 2005

 

Terrorist on the prowl - cops

 
 
 
 
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Although the lower half of George Street, Port-of-Spain, remained cordoned off, a man makes a purchase from a vendor yesterday afternoon, north of Queen Street, hours after a device exploded under a pile of rubbish.

Photo: David Wears

BY ROBERT ALONZO

Senior members of the Criminal Investigations Department and members of the Special Anti-Crime Unit confirmed yesterday that a local terrorist was now prowling downtown Port-of-Spain.

This, as a second device exploded on George Street, about 100 metres north of the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception.

But yesterday’s blast, on the eve of the anniversary of the explosion on Frederick Street last month, did not result in any panic in the capital.

Investigators, along with forensic experts, said they strongly believed that the inclement weather averted possible casualties and injuries, as shoppers and pedestrians were sheltering from the heavy downpour.

Even so, the blast left several shoppers, vendors, pedestrians and drivers in fear.

Police Commissioner Trevor Paul, who accompanied a team of investigators to the scene, said the explosion was consistent with a low-powered explosive device, similar to the one which went off on Frederick Street.

Yesterday’s device was hidden beneath a heap of dirt, atop which there was a pile of garbage.

The blast, which occurred at around 11.40 am, ripped apart piece of the pavement, throwing concrete and other debris on the roadway.

Paul said investigators would pursue an “aggressive investigation” to bring those responsible for the act to justice.

However, a source close to the investigation said law enforcement officers were given a mandate to find the man who was now being branded by authorities as a local terrorist.

The source said investigators and experts from the Forensic Science Centre shared the view that the perpetrator was crafty and “had it down choke.”

Fragments and other components found yesterday by forensic experts were similar to what was recovered on Frederick Street.

Analysis by forensic examiners showed that potassium chlorate, a chemical that can be combined with other chemicals to create an explosive device, had been used in the Frederick Street explosion.

Investigators said some of the evidence was washed away yesterday because of the downpour.

They said they believed the same chemical was used in yesterday’s incident.

The source said that fortunately, the device was put under dirt and garbage and this would have cushioned the blast.

Another senior investigator said like the July 11 incident, yesterday’s would be also difficult to solve unless anyone saw who planted the device.

He said investigators must get information to identify who was responsible.

The investigator said his team suspected that the device had been planted a few hours before it detonated, but he could not give an exact time.

The Customs and Excise Canine Unit was also summoned to the area.

However, the sniffer dogs did not detect anything.

Two men who told police they were in the immediate area when the explosion went off were quickly taken to Besson Street Police Station.

They gave statements and were allowed to leave.

Police said they were not suspected of any wrongdoing.

The senior policeman said there was also no fresh leads in the Frederick Street explosion, although 43 witnesses were interviewed.

Anyone with information about yesterday’s explosion on George Street, Port-of-Spain, is asked to call the police or Crime Stoppers at 800-TIPS (800-8477). Crime Stoppers said yesterday that it would pay up to $25,000 for information leading to the arrest of anyone involved in any such explosion.

 

 

 

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