British police say immigration center attack was terrorist incident

British police said evidence showed an extreme right-wing terrorist ideology had motivated a petrol bomb attack on an immigration center in the city of Dover.

 Immigration and police officers stand next to a car believed to have been used in a petrol bomb attack on the Border Force processing center in Dover, Britain, October 30, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/PETER NICHOLLS)
Immigration and police officers stand next to a car believed to have been used in a petrol bomb attack on the Border Force processing center in Dover, Britain, October 30, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/PETER NICHOLLS)

British police said on Saturday evidence showed an extreme right-wing terrorist ideology had motivated a petrol bomb attack on an immigration center in the southern English port town of Dover on October 30.

Nobody was seriously hurt in the incident, and police said 66-year-old Andrew Leak - who was found dead at a nearby service station soon after the attack - had apparently acted alone.

"There is currently nothing to suggest the offender was working alongside anyone else and there is not believed to be any wider threat to the public," a police statement said.

The Dover immigration facility is the first stop for thousands of people making the dangerous journey across the English Channel to seek asylum in Britain.

The police investigation

Evidence from digital media devices suggested Leak was motivated by extreme right-wing ideology, although there were also strong indications that Leak's mental health was a factor in the attack, police said, adding that investigations are continuing.

 A man throws an object out of a car window next to the Border Force centre after a firebomb attack in Dover, Britain, October 30, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/PETER NICHOLLS) A man throws an object out of a car window next to the Border Force centre after a firebomb attack in Dover, Britain, October 30, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/PETER NICHOLLS)

"I am satisfied that the suspect's actions were primarily driven by an extremist ideology. This meets the threshold for a terrorist incident," said Tim Jacques, senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing.

"I am satisfied that the suspect's actions were primarily driven by an extremist ideology. This meets the threshold for a terrorist incident."

Tim Jacques

Immigration is a heated political issue in Britain.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said Britain is a compassionate and welcoming place for asylum seekers, but this depends on the country being able to effectively police its borders.

Sunak's interior minister, Suella Braverman, is facing heavy criticism for describing the arrival of asylum seekers as an invasion.