'He was laughing while doing it': Man 'drove 100 miles' to hurl bombs at Dover migrant centre then 'killed himself'

30 October 2022, 13:11 | Updated: 31 October 2022, 10:00

Fire breaks out at the Dover processing centre
Fire breaks out at the Dover processing centre. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

A man was seen laughing before he he threw three petrol bombs at a migrant processing centre at the Port of Dover before taking his own life, according to reports.

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The alleged attacker, an unknown white man in a striped top, drove up to the centre in a white SEAT sports utility vehicle, according to a Reuters photographer at the scene, before hurling the missiles.

Police said that the man got out of his car and threw three petrol bombs. Two people received minor injuries, officers said.

They said the incident is not being treated as terror-related.

The man was later found dead.

Police officers at the scene
Police officers at the scene. Picture: Alamy

An eyewitness said he saw the man laughing while he carried out the terrifying attack.

Gary Smith told the Sun: "I was walking over a nearby bridge and I could see him throwing the bombs. They were making loud bangs. I think he threw about four or five. 

"He was just laughing while he was doing it. It was crazy."

Another witness told local publication Kent Online: "I heard what I thought was cannons going off and thought it must have been an event.

"We paused the TV to hear. There were at least six or seven.

"To think it was actually explosions that we heard is just so upsetting. I really hope no one is hurt."

It is claimed the man then drove off and killed himself. Kent Police said the suspect had been identified and located, confirming on Sunday evening at about 7pm that they had found him dead.

The man was not local, according to a report in the Mail Online, and had allegedly driven 100 miles to the centre before carrying out the attack.

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Another eyewitness, Mark Williamson, 59, an international lorry driver from Leeds said he saw the suspect just after the attack.

"I was going to meet my mate for a coffee and I saw the fella in the white vehicle sort of hanging out the window," he told the Mail Online.

"The next minute, armed response turned up. It was surreal."

Police officers with the car allegedly used by the suspect
Police officers with the car allegedly used by the suspect. Picture: Alamy

It is unclear if any of the migrants were hurt, but some 700 of them were moved from the Dover unit to the processing centre in Manston, in north-east Kent in the aftermath of the attack.

The motive for the attack remains unclear. Officers have reportedly not uncovered a motive for the attack yet.

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The items are being assessed by an army bomb disposal team.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service confirmed it was called to an incident at 11.22am today and crews extinguished a fire, according to KentLive.

A group of people thought to be migrants at the processing centre in Dover following the incident
A group of people thought to be migrants at the processing centre in Dover following the incident. Picture: Alamy
The fire brigade confirmed they extinguished a fire
The fire brigade confirmed they extinguished a fire. Picture: Alamy

Footage shared on social media shows a fire at the gates of the immigration centre.

Emergency services have rushed to the scene and the area remains cordoned off.

Nathalie Elphicke, the Conservative MP for Dover, told LBC the incident was "very shocking" but said tensions at the facility had been rising.

"This is a well-known facility, it's the place where boats, small boats, arrive before people are taken to nearby reception facilities at Manston," she said.

"We don't know the motivation of the individual concerned yet so I wouldn't want to speculate on that, but I think it is fair to say that tensions have been running high over the last period and indeed I've raised my concerns about that with the immigration minister earlier this week."

She went on: "Last Sunday, just a week ago, we had an incident where two boats had arrived on the beach at Dover and the people who were in them... went into a nearby residential area [and] entered a house... tensions have been raised over the last week and yesterday we saw 990 arrivals."

She said the attack was "absolutely dreadful" and said people at the centre were being looked after.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman called the attack "a distressing incident".

She tweeted: "I am receiving regular updates on the situation.

"My thoughts are with those affected, the tireless Home Office staff and police responding. We must now support those officers as they carry out their investigation."

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said he was in contact with the police about the incident.

He said: "Earlier today there was a serious incident at Dover.

"I am being kept regularly updated by the police. My sympathies are with those involved and my thanks and admiration are with Kent Police and Border Force officers as they go about their essential work to keep us safe."

Mr Jenrick will visit both the Dover immigration centre and the processing centres in Manston, north-east Kent, amid claims of overcrowding.

Ms Braverman came under fire after it was alleged she knowingly detained asylum seekers for longer than is legal.

The recently reinstated home secretary was told at least three weeks ago that migrants were being kept in overcrowded centres in Manston, in Kent, for unlawful lengths of time, the Sunday Times reported, citing five sources.

Migrants are not supposed to be kept in the processing centres for more than 24 hours under UK laws, while they undergo initial checks.

Some 2,600 migrants have been kept for more than four weeks in the centres - only designed to house 1,600.

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A Kent Police spokesperson said: "Kent Police was called at 11.22am on Sunday 30 October 2022 to a Home Office immigration premises at The Viaduct in Dover.

"Officers established that two to three incendiary devices had been thrown outside and into the premises by a single suspect who arrived at the scene in a car. Two people have reported minor injuries from inside the property.

"The suspect was identified, and very quickly located at a nearby petrol station, and confirmed deceased.

"The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit attended the location to ensure there were no further threats. A further device was found and confirmed safe within the suspect’s vehicle.

"The site remained open, however around 700 suspected migrants were relocated to Manston to ensure safety during the initial phase of the police investigation. Enquiries into the incident remain ongoing by Kent detectives."

Bomb disposal teams are at the scene
Bomb disposal teams are at the scene. Picture: Alamy
The car allegedly involved in the incident
The car allegedly involved in the incident. Picture: Alamy

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We are aware of an incident at Western Jet Foil, Dover and police are in attendance.

"It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage."

People have reacted to the incident, with one person on Twitter branding it "shocking".

Another said: "Petrol bombs in Dover! What the hell is wrong with people!"

An aerial view of the emergency service presence
An aerial view of the emergency service presence. Picture: Alamy

It comes after nearly 1,000 migrants crossed the English Channel and arrived in Dover on Saturday.

Huge lines of people, thought to be migrants, could be seen waiting to be processed at the Border Force compound in Dover, Kent, as a total of 990 arrived.

Processing continued on Sunday before the attack happened.

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK.