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Mother 'terrified' by evacuation

Families that were evacuated after police arrested a teenager on suspicion of possessing explosives said they were left terrified by the ordeal.

Around 50 people who were asked to leave their homes in Hamilton Place, Newcastle upon Tyne, have now returned after an 18-year-old white man was held at around 11.30am yesterday.

Officers said they suspected he was intending to harm people. He remains in police custody.

Nikola Smith, who has lived on the street for six years and has four children, said she first knew about the incident when the police knocked on her door and told her she had to leave.

The 36-year-old waitress said: "I got a knock on my door about 2pm and a police woman said 'you need to leave now'. She said 'I can't tell you about what's going on'.

"I said 'I have a one-year-old' so she said 'grab one bottle and then leave'. It was quite dramatic, I asked them how long it would be and she said it could be hours.

"I felt terrified and the scary thing is it did not just happen on that day, I could have gone to the shops and left my eldest daughter."

The residents were taken to a "safety welfare centre" co-ordinated by Newcastle City Council. This morning, police said they have been allowed to return home.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: "Police would like to thank the residents for their co-operation in assisting police in this matter.

"The 18-year-old white man who was arrested yesterday, on suspicion of being in possession of explosives with intent to endanger life, remains in custody and continues to assist police with their inquiries."

Last night, Superintendent Bruce Storey said: "We don't know this man's motivation but we do believe he intended to harm people.

"We are in the early stages of establishing his lifestyle to gather a picture of what his motives may have been."

Officers from the Army bomb squad, based in Catterick, North Yorkshire, attended the housing estate close to Newcastle United's stadium.

The area was cordoned off and suspicious items found at the man's address were investigated.

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