Central Canberra closed after bomb robot investigates suspicious package

By Matthew Elmas

December 2, 2020

Parts of central Canberra were shutdown today after a man who left a bundle of clothes in the ACT library set off a bomb scare.

Several buildings along the London Circuit were evacuated shortly after midday as police cordoned off large parts of Canberra’s central precinct, while roads between Northbourne Avenue and Akuna Street were closed.

Video footage shared on social media showed a bomb disposal robot entering the area early in the afternoon on Wednesday.

ACT Policing later confirmed the package was merely a bundle of clothes, left in the library that morning by a man who alerted suspicion after telling nearby members of the public about a bomb in the library at around 11:45AM AEDT.

Those members of the public then contacted ACT fire and rescue, who relayed their concerns onto ACT Policing.

Police have taken a 20 year-old man from New South Wales into custody in relation to the incident.

Earlier Matt Reynolds, chief inspector in charge of criminal investigations at ACT Policing, said the suspect’s motivations were not yet clear.

“Once we speak to that person we need to understand what the motivation was, it is possible that person may have a mental health issue,” Reynolds said.

The man, who was known to police previously, could face charges of public mischief and causing public alarm, in what police described as a “frustrating” waste of emergency response resources.

Pedestrians were asked to avoid the area earlier in the afternoon, but police have confirmed there is no present threat to the wider community.

While much of Canberra’s central precinct was closed the ACT Legislative Assembly was not evacuated, although its main entrance was cordoned off for a period.

The incident comes in the middle of a federal parliamentary sitting week in Canberra and as thousands descend on Manuka Oval in nearby Griffith for the third one day international cricket match between India and Australia.

For anyone seeking help, Lifeline is on 13 11 14 and Beyond Blue is 1300 22 4636.

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