Police use specialised equipment to disarm a improvised explosion device at Mullumbimby.
Police use specialised equipment to disarm a improvised explosion device at Mullumbimby. Marc Stapelberg

BOMB WAS 'REAL': Experts forced to physically grab device

A BOMB technician brought to Mullumbimby from Sydney has rendered the explosive device safe, but police believe it was real and it will now be forensically examined.

More than 10 hours after the drama began, Tweed-Byron Police Detective Chief Inspector Luke Arthurs updated media at the scene.

"They're sworn officers attached to the bomb disposal unit in Sydney, they've got the expertise and they've got all the testing that they need to do, and they were quite satisfied," he said.

"They actually got the device and physically touched it, opened it and rendered it safe.

"We'll get the device forensically examined and we'll continue viewing CCTV in town to try to identify the offender."

Police use specialised equipment to disarm a improvised explosion device at Mullumbimby.
Police use specialised equipment to disarm a improvised explosion device at Mullumbimby. Marc Stapelberg

Chief Insp Arthurs said police would also try to identify where the bomb came from.

"We believe the device was real, but it needs further testing by the technicians," he said.

"These things happen but the good thing is we responded, we protected the community, we kept everyone safe and we've rendered the device safe with no one being injured.

"This happens everywhere in Australia, these things happen, and that's just the way the world is at the moment.

"No-one was injured, so the outcome's great.

"Investigations are continuing.

"We don't recommend you touch, tamper or tilt any device, and that's why we got the experts in."

 

UPDATE, 5pm: SPECIALIST equipment has arrived in Mullumbimby from Sydney this afternoon as work continues to disarm an improvised explosive device that was found in a laneway.

It is understood police are now setting the equipment up.

Part of the equipment was to include a bomb robot, but it is not known whether the robot was required.

Anyone near the scene has been asked to move back.

Exclusion zones are still in place and some streets are still blocked as the police operation continues.

 

UPDATE, 2.45pm: BYRON Shire Mayor Simon Richardson has slammed those responsible for planting an explosive device in Mullumbimby.

Speaking from near the exclusion zone, he said he wondered about the motivation for the incident.

"It's obviously someone who doesn't really care about community and doesn't have any compassion for other people," Cr Richardson said.

"More importantly, what it does, is it increases a sense of fear and concern amongst our community, when we have so many other challenges.

"It would be nice if we could have some space… and try to be positive.

"It's a sad day in the sense that someone has taken an extreme position that does nothing but put our community at risk."

UPDATE, 2.30pm: THE streets are empty at Mullumbimby, as NSW Fire & Rescue crews gather for another briefing near the corner of Station Street.

Local shop owners hover in their doorways watching the fire trucks that have now been joined by the HAZMAT semi trailer.

Police vehicles continue to block the entrances to the roads around the council building near where an explosive device was found at 7.30am this morning in the alley at the back of the Commonwealth Bank.

All are poised awaiting for the arrival of specialist equipment from Sydney aboard Polair.

Mullum police operation: Streets have been blocked after the discovery of a suspicious item.
Mullum police operation: Streets have been blocked after the discovery of a suspicious item.

There are few onlookers adding to the emptiness of the street.

Fire & Rescue NSW personnel are checking the breathing apparatus that is laid out in the street near the hundreds of metres of fire hose placed down the middle of Burringbar Street ready for use should the device prove to be a real bomb.

Preparations have been made should the nearby pool shop full of flammable chemicals be ignited by any blast.

The long running incident has taken its toll on the businesses at this end of town with many deciding to call it a day.

 

UPDATE, 12pm: THE business owner who found a suspected explosive device in a Mullumbimby laneway has described the moment he realised it could be a bomb.

Mark Thomas, the owner of Mullumbimby Hire & Sales Pool Shop, said he saw the device in the laneway behind his shop early this morning.

Mullumbimby pool shop owner Mark Thomson gives a briefing to fire crews about the chemicals in his shop.
Mullumbimby pool shop owner Mark Thomson gives a briefing to fire crews about the chemicals in his shop. Marc Stapelberg

"A guy found it just before me... I saw it, I was curious," he said.

"He came up to me and said, 'hey mate, I think that might be a bomb, don't go near it.

"I just rolled it over and it looked like a bit of a printed circuit board, a switch, a down pipe, a plastic cartoon-looking pipe bomb.

"Then I just went, 'oh this could really be a bomb'."

Mr Thomas said the pipe bomb was about 200mm long and sitting against the wall of the shop.

He said he had no idea who would have put it there.

"No-one wants to blow up Mullumbimby," he said.

Mr Thomas spent some time this morning briefing the fire brigade about the types of chemicals in his shop, which included hydrochloric acid, chlorine and industrial welding gases.

 

UPDATE, 11am: POLICE are waiting on specialist resources to attend after an improvised explosive device was found in a laneway at Mullumbimby this morning.

Detective Inspector Matt Kehoe said a man found the device near the Commonwealth Bank around 7.30am.

"Rescue and bomb disposal staff are here examining the device and we are awaiting on specialist resources to attend," he said.

"We're certainly treating it as a real device hence the exclusion zone in place and we are happy with the precautions in place.

"Our investigations are ongoing.

"It may be an operation that will extend for some hours."

 

UPDATE, 9.55am: A MULLUMBIMBY cafe owner said she had been told police were dealing with a pipe bomb in the alleyway near the Commonwealth Bank.

Eva Angeli, from The Other Joint, said she realised something was wrong as soon as she saw emergency crews arriving in town.

"I saw the police arriving into the back street and thought, 'uh-oh, what's going on'," she said.

"My milkman came in and he knows everything…so he gave me the inside scoop, and I was like, 'what? No'.

"So there was a pipe bomb found behind the bank.

"Nothing like this has happened in Mullum before."

Police are expected to make a formal statement in the near future.

 

Original story: PARTS of Mullumbimby are in lockdown today after a suspicious device was found in an alleyway near a bank.

Tweed-Byron District Police Detective Inspector Matt Kehoe confirmed a "device" had been found in the alley at the back of the Commonwealth Bank.

He said police had not received a phone call, and there was no note with the device, so police did not yet know who was responsible for it. 

Det Insp Kehoe said the emergency operation was likely to continue for most of the day.

A bomb-disposal robot is being brought up from Sydney.

Byron Shire Council general manager, Mark Arnold, said the council was informed of the incident around 7.30am.

The council building has been evacuated.

The council will operate from the visitor centre and the depot at Byron Bay today.