The device is being examined as police hope to get a clue on the identity of the man pictured on CCTV footage released last night.
Made from an asthma inhaler, a firelighter and matches wrapped in paper, the device was set alight on a toilet seat. Police have released CCTV footage of the man they would like to speak to, who is seen walking up the escalator in nearby shopping centre, St George’s, 40 minutes before the device went off. The man is wearing a dark jacket, a dark hat, jeans and dark gloves and carrying a plastic bag.
A police spokesman said: “The investigation is ongoing and we are still searching for the man shown on the footage. We do have officers at both St George’s and Fishergate shopping centres but at this time of year we would always have a presence in these areas.”
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The drama began yesterday morning as hundreds of shoppers were evacuated from the centre at around 10am. Police locked down the popular shopping destination for almost nine hours as the Army’s bomb disposal units searched the building for further devices. The Fishergate Shopping Centre has reopened today following the incident but police are still asking for the public’s help in the search for the man.
Detective Chief Inspector Jill Johnston, of Preston Police, said: “We are keen to speak to the man in this CCTV as we believe he could have information which could assist us.
“We are treating this as a criminal investigation and while the motivation for this incident remains unclear at this stage, we believe this device has been left there deliberately and did have the potential to cause serious injury if it had exploded.
“I would appeal to anyone who recognises this man, or who has any other information which could assist to get in touch with us.”
Anyone with information should contact police on 101 quoting log number 293 of Thursday, December 17 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.