Terror attacks: Police launch dawn raids on homes across Leeds in wake of bombings. Reports by Geoff Fox, Richard Edwards, Bruce Smith, Mark Lavery and Neil Hudson
Cordon thrown around houses
DOZENS of police officers – many armed – swooped on a terrace house in Holbeck, Leeds, at about 6.30am today.
The officers from West Yorkshire Police with many vehicles surrounded a through terrace house in Colenso Mount and sealed the area off.
Early risers were stunned to see police vans containing officers in body armour enter the house.
Other police officers made a tight cordon around the end of Colenso Mount and other police guarded the front and rear entrances to the house.
Police forensic scientists in white decontamination suits were seen going in and out of the front entrance to the property and were still working hard at 10.30am.
Only residents were allowed through the police cordon to reach their homes in Colenso Mount.
Though many residents were baffled initially by the action, they soon connected it to the other operations and raids sparked in West Yorkshire today in the aftermath of the London bombing outrages.
A few hundred yards away in Crosby Road, at its junction with Brown Lane East, the proprietor of a sandwich shop, Mr Bahram Khosravani, said that when he arrived to open his business at about 7am there were already police vehicles including a video van parked adjacent to his shop in Brown Lane. Other police cars arrived soon after and armed officers were clearly visible.
Throughout the morning, police cars had been patrolling continually through the adjacent streets.
Miss Sharon Salter, manageress of a launderette in Colenso Grove adjacent to Colenso Mount said: "I opened up at about 8.55am and there were loads of police officers all around the area already.
Some of them were in vans and were armed. The back street was closed and also at the top and bottom of the street."
Riddle of the missing man
A TERRACED house in Beeston was at the centre of a national probe into last week's London bombings.
Police sealed off a short stretch of Stratford Street earlier this morning with officers standing guard outside No. 123, a mid-terrace house which has become the focus of the search.
A stunned community looked on as officers in police vans and squad cars arrived. It is understood the house is occupied by a Bengali family comprising three young males.
At least one of the males is understood to have disappeared last week.
The operation was being carried out by the Metropolitan Police in tandem with West Yorkshire Police.
Jodie Reynolds, 40, said she was terrified the bombers could strike in this tightly knit Leeds community.
Ms Reynolds, who is a converted Muslim, with a Muslim daughter and partner, said: "I think whoever the police are after, it is quite possible these people could get it into their heads to do something else. You hear of hostage situations so I am on the verge of taking my daughter out of school."
"These people (involved in the bombings) are selfish, inconsiderate cowards. They think killing innocent people will put the world to rights, when what they should have done is go to Gleneagles last week and see the world leaders."
Ms Reynolds, who lives on Sunbeam Terrace overlooking Stratford Street, said she knew the lads who lived there but said this morning's development had come as a complete shock.
One neighbour said there had been several comings and goings in recent weeks.
She claimed that although there were three Asian men living there lately there had been frequent visits to the house by people of a possibly Eastern European origin.
Sarah Stowe, who lives in Westbourne Avenue, near Stratford Street.
She said: "We've got to be careful not to tar everyone with the same brush. The vast majority of the Muslim community are totally against what has gone on."
Calm smoke as police move in
THE calm was almost unnerving.
Normally the presence of several police vans, and a cordoned off street would attract scores of onlookers on an inner city Leeds estate.
Today, the streets of Beeston Hill remained quiet.
"They are staying inside away from this one," said one world-weary police sergeant.
At the cordon, in Colwyn Road, the mood was also strangely relaxed.
Police officers, the only change to their regular kit the combat-style trousers they had on, chatted and appeared relaxed at the edge of the tape. None were carrying more than their usual weapons of baton and CS gas spray.
One local, who lives in a house near to the one the police were searching – Number 51 – stood casually drinking a cup of coffee and smoking a cigarette as though this was the most natural thing in the world.
An elderly resident came out of his house, did not even glance at the non-drama and started busily trimming his hedge.
A father of three was one of a few people who agreed to speak to the YEP. None would give their names.
He said: "Normally it is quiet. There is no trouble around here."
Asked about the link to the London bombings he said: "I can't believe it. The London bombings were terrible, we all want whoever has done it to be caught."
An 83-year-old woman, who was born in the house opposite the house the police targeted, and still lives there, expressed her surprise at the operation.
She said: "All of a sudden this was going on today. I have lived here happily all these years and will continue living here."
Local resident Jack Allen said he believed two sisters lived at 51 Colwyn Avenue with their children but a number of other members of their family "came and went".
Mr Allen said he recently had to call at the property when he was looking for some misdirected post.
He said: "There were two sisters there, they seemed like normal people.
They were quite friendly and helpful."
Police continued the operation at 51 Colwyn Avenue and the next door property, 49, which local people say are knocked into one house.
Police tape also sealed off cars parked nearby, including two Mercedes vehicles as the police helicopter hovered overhead.
'Cars just come and go'
RESIDENTS reacted with shock today after police raided two addresses in the Thornhill Lees area of Dewsbury.
Up to a dozen police vehicles went to an address on Thornhill Park Avenue and at least half a dozen went to an address at Lees Holm, off Lees Hall Road.
David Kellett, who has lived in Thornhill Park Avenue more than 10 years, said: "I pulled the curtains back, saw all the police cars and couldn't believe it. I was a bit shocked really."
Mr Kellett said he knew the occupants as friendly and described the area as quiet populated by families, retired people and young couples.
Neighbours of the town house on Lees Holm at Thornhill, said the occupiers had been in for about eight weeks and were rarely seen. Father of two, Norman Hansrot, 33, said: "I haven't seen anybody spend any length of time at the house. Cars just come and go."
Another resident who asked not to be named said: "We were appalled by the London bombings and it was obvious to us that the people who did it would not live in London. They've got to live somewhere I suppose."