The bomb disposal team arriving on King's Parade last nightLouis Ashworth

In a statement released this morning by Cambridgeshire Constabulary, police announced that the briefcase abandoned at Great St Mary’s yesterday contained books.

Police cordoned off a large area around King’s Parade and evacuated nearby buildings in response to the briefcase, which was taken to be suspicious.

A bomb disposal unit was also called to the scene, and two small explosions were heard at approximately 9.45pm and 9.50pm. The police confirmed this morning that the case was destroyed in the controlled explosions.

Diners at the Cambridge Chop House were also evacuated to a safe distance. One customer told Varsity that “a police man came down and demanded that everybody got out the restaurant, so I grabbed my crème brûlée and ran”.

Evacuated restaurant staff and members of the public wait outside the police cordon Louis Ashworth

Varsity reporter Louis Ashworth, who remained at the scene throughout the incident, said: “Scenes were calm at the intersection of Bene’t Street and King’s Parade, by the Corpus Christi clock. Staff from the Cambridge Chop House stood outside Corpus library and chatted, while a group of reporters looked on from outside King’s.”

Footage of the controlled explosions being carried outLouis Ashworth

Following the arrival of the bomb disposal unit, “onlookers were ushered back, and told to huddle in the alleyway between St Catharine’s and King’s. Students were told to back away from their windows. The van doors shortly opened, and a bomb disposal robot was deployed, moving to a location out of sight near Great St Mary’s.

“A couple of minutes later, red lights flashed in the back of the van, and a small explosion was heard. Police told onlookers to wait, and five minutes later and second, more distinct bang rang down the street. There was another delay of around ten minutes, before police dropped the cordon.”

He added, “Within moments the situation was completely normal.”


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Controlled explosions carried out on King’s Parade

Sneha Lala, a Senior News Correspondent for Varsity who was also present at the scene, added: “There was some frustration from people kicked out of their accommodation but a lot of suspense as well.”

Varsity has also spoken to the person responsible for alerting the police to the briefcase. While walking down King’s Parade, they said they saw “a black briefcase sitting next to a bin outside the church opposite Senate House [Great St. Mary’s].”

The student telephoned the police after noticing the briefcase was “a bit weird because nobody seemed to be with it”.

“The police took my details and said I did the right thing, and that they take anything suspicious like this very seriously in the current climate.”

The University took to Twitter to thank the police for their response to the incident, and also thanked “students and staff who showed such calm and patience”.

Gonville & Caius College, who were active on Twitter throughout the incident, also tweeted to congratulate their “students, staff, and Fellows” for their “calm and good humour throughout”.

The College was also eager to reassure its followers that “we remained calm during lockdown and did not break into the wine cellar”.

In a statement released this morning, a spokesperson for the University said: “We would like to thank Cambridgeshire Police and the bomb squad for their swift actions last night. Thank you to students and staff caught up in the events who showed such calm and patience while the experts did their job.”

The full statement from Cambridgeshire police read: “Police were called at just before 7.15pm yesterday with a report of an abandoned briefcase outside the church in Kings Parade, Cambridge.

“Roads in the area were closed and nearby buildings were evacuated as a precaution. Explosives Ordnance Disposal attended and the briefcase was destroyed in a controlled explosion. It was found to contain books.”

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