St Giles’, Woodstock Road and Little Clarendon Street were closed on Tuesday morning following a potential bomb scare.
Buses and pedestrians were turned away, and shops and businesses on the roads, including Taylors, were evacuated for around 45 minutes while members of the police and army attempted to ascertain the extent of the threat.
A bomb disposal unit was called to the scene, centred on the Army Careers Office on Woodstock Road. A sniffer dog was seen outside of the office, and it is believed that a “suspicious package” was found outside.
One employee of the Careers Office was heard to remark that the package may have simply been “a bag full of paperwork”, following an x-ray by the bomb disposal unit.
All of the closed streets were reopened by 11:10.
One anonymous eyewitness said: “It was quite an inconvenience for people trying to get to their jobs and classes during the time. It seems a bit silly that a stray box of paperwork can cause them to shut down a whole street, but I guess better safe than sorry. I saw a couple of girls who couldn’t get into their class at the language centre; it must have been a pain for them”.
Several students were also affected by the road closure. One Regent’s Park student said: “I saw a Snapchat of the bomb scare – it was unnerving”.
A staff member of Taylor’s Deli on St Giles’ commented to The Oxford Mail: ““Last year we had the same thing when everyone was evacuated for six hours. Last year it was real but this time it was a fake. Maybe somebody just forgot their bag. It’s good they took it seriously – we don’t want to explode.”
This is not the first bomb scare to hit Oxford’s Army Careers Office. In February 2014, St Giles and the surrounding area were evacuated after Oxford’s Army Career Office was one of several to be targeted with packages containing “small, crude, but potentially viable devices”. Responsibility for this action was claimed by the New IRA, who said: “The IRA claims responsibility for the explosive devices that were sent to British armed forces recruitment centres in England. Attacks will continue when and where the IRA see fit.”
PHOTO: Cason Reily