A Texaco petrol station in Manchester found itself on the front line in the fight against terrorism when armed police swooped on a customer and briefly closed down the site.
The incident occurred on Saturday June 3 an hour before three terrorists launched their murderous attack on London Bridge, and just 400m from the Manchester Arena, where a suicide bomber killed and injured scores of concert goers two weeks earlier.
Inayat Pirphai, a cashier at the Redbank Service Station on Cheetham Hill Road, witnessed the police action. He told the Manchester Evening News: “At 9.15pm I saw this man in a car pull up. Suddenly two unmarked Mercedes police cars came up and eight armed police officers wearing masks got out.
“They had these big guns. They asked the man to get out of his car. They then pushed him to the floor and put handcuffs on him. They led him into the corner of the petrol station forecourt and then took him across the road to a police van about 20 minutes later. Then they told us to get out of the shop, and the road was closed off as more police arrived. It was frightening. We were allowed back in at about 11pm.”
The next day Greater Manchester Police confirmed the incident was connected with the investigation into the Manchester Arena bombing, and said in a statement: “Late yesterday evening, Saturday 3 June 2017, officers arrested a 20-year-old man on Cheetham Hill Road on suspicion of offences contrary to the Terrorism Act.” They also revealed that later that evening officers had carried out a raid at a property on Princess Road in Moss Side that was connected with the earlier arrest in Cheetham Hill Road.