Anti-terror police are searching for a Ministry of Defence shipment of munitions stolen from a goods train in Warrington. Sky sources understand they are powerful anti-tank mines. Ten packages, each containing four separate plastic cases, were taken from the train as it travelled between Cumbria and Oxfordshire.
They were reported missing to British Transport Police at around 7.30am on Thursday when the train arrived at Didcot, Oxfordshire. Seven of the packages were later discovered near a railway line in the Folley Lane area of Warrington, Cheshire. The remaining three, which were made up of a total of 12 plastic cases, are still missing.
The munitions were on the train when it left Longtown in Cumbria at 11.30am on Wednesday. Police understand the munitions were taken off the train while it was temporarily stationary in Warrington, and seven of the packages were discarded nearby. They are described as being rectangular plastic tubes, approximately 4ft (1.2 metres) in length.
The North West Counter Terrorism Unit (NWCTU) is leading a joint investigation, which includes the Metropolitan Police, British Transport Police and MoD.
Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney, from NWCTU, said: “A number of enquiries are now being made by police officers into this theft, and our main priority is to safely recover the missing items. “At this stage there is nothing to suggest the theft is terrorist-related, but due to the potential complexity of the investigation, our enquiries are being led by counter-terrorism officers. “We would like to appeal to any members of the public who may know the whereabouts of these items, or any persons involved in the theft of these items to contact the police immediately. “I want to make it clear that, in their normal condition, these munitions are stable and do not pose a risk to the public. “However, the materials could be hazardous if they were to be tampered with and we therefore ask that anyone who sees them or knows where they are to call the police as soon as possible.” Anyone with information is asked to call police on 0161 856 1027 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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