Terrified residents awoke to sounds of 'warfare'

Published date: 27 June 2012 |
Published by: Rebecca Cole
Read more articles by Rebecca Cole

The former RAF Sealand site 

TERRIFIED residents awoke to the sounds of “warfare” in the middle of the night.

Machine gun fire, military helicopters and explosions were first heard echoing around Sealand at about 1.30am yesterday and many homeowners claimed the disturbance lasted for as long as four hours.

Merseyside Police confirmed the force was taking part in an anti-terrorism training exercise at the former RAF Sealand site and in Liverpool city centre but residents are outraged they had no warning.

A woman from Connah’s Quay, who did not wish to be named, said she was woken by the sound of machine gun fire at about 2.15am.

“The gunfire petered out after a while but then there were about four or five explosions and I could see military helicopters in the sky,” she said.

“It was very frightening and it went on till about 4am.

“I can’t believe it was a pre-planned exercise and no-one was told. It’s disgusting. It woke the whole neighbourhood up and people must have been so scared.”

Cllr David Wisinger, of Sealand Road, said residents and councillors should have been warned such an exercise was going to take place on their doorstep.

He said: “People didn’t have a clue what was going on and were so afraid.

“The police should have told the community councillors around here so they could inform residents otherwise you get all sorts going through your head. It’s very frightening.”

Mike McGivern, North Wales Police spokesman, said some local councillors were warned, businesses in Sealand were contacted by PCSOs and Online Watch Link messages were sent out to members of the area’s crimewatch groups.

But Christine Jones, county councillor for Sealand, was angry she had been left in the dark.

“I had no phone calls, emails or text messages warning me and the council leader and deputy didn’t know anything about it either so I don’t know who North Wales Police have told. I’m disgusted.

“I’ve been unindated with complaints from people who were petrified. Some even thought they were under attack.”

The terrifying scene, which was heard as far affield as Wrexham, was described by Facebook user Paul Philip Langton as being like “Call of Duty, Modern Warfare” and heard “full magazine clips being emptied”.

Casey Louise Evans posted: “Someone said it was a man with a shotgun but then someone said it was at the RAF Sealand camp. There were four choppers out and loads of police cars.”

A spokesman for Merseyside Police said: “An exercise was held in Sealand and Liverpool city centre as part of a robust testing and exercising programme to ensure multi-agency security arrangements in case of a terrorist threat are fit for purpose.

“The training exercise involved Merseyside Police, the Ministry of Defence and other emergency services.

“It was not held in response to any specific threat.

“Due to the nature of the exercise we are not prepared to discuss in further detail.”

Colin Everett, chief executive of Flintshire County Council, said: “We accept training exercises such as this are needed to prepare the military. They inevitably can create noise and some disruption. We would have expected some local notice to avoid unnecessary public concern in the immediate area – particularly for an exercise carried out in the small hours.

“The county council, local partners and nearby residents should have been informed in a manner that would not have posed a risk to the integrity of the exercise and we will be seeking assurances from the MoD that this will be the case in the future.”

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