RAF Marham on high alert after serviceman threatened with knife in abduction attempt
- Credit: Archant
Security is at a heightened state at RAF Marham today after a serviceman was threatened by two men with a knife while out running.
Police are still hunting the two men who fled the scene in what is believed to be a Ford Galaxy following the abduction attempt yesterday.
The road from the junction of Marham Road to Squires Hill remains closed today while investigations continue.
Neither Norfolk Police nor the Ministry of Defence (MoD) would be drawn on whether it was a terror-related incident.
However, the personnel who work at the airbase, which is home to the famous squadron of Tornados and is soon to be home to Lightning aircraft, were being advised to be vigilant following the incident.
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An internal memo seen by the EDP sent to staff from Rich Curzon, in Protective Security at the MoD, said: “Following a security incident at RAF Marham, it is directed that all personnel keep a low profile and not make themselves vulnerable.
“Specifically, until the threat subsides, no-one is to be on their own on foot, or on a bicycle, within the local area in uniform or clothing which might identify them with the military.”
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A further information note to all personnel described the incident as an “alleged attempted abduction” and explained the incident occurred when a serviceman had been running “approximately one mile outside of RAF Marham’s main gate”.
Neither Norfolk Police nor the MoD would confirm or deny the contents of the memos.
A “heightened” police presence remains around the airbase in the form of “reassurance patrols” to support local residents who work there.
Inspector Nathan Franklin, of Norfolk Police, said: “Police have closed the road close to the RAF Marham Airbase.
“A man was approached by two other men in the Burnthouse Road and Ladywood Road area and threatened with a knife just before making off in a car like a Ford Galaxy.”
He added that the investigation was ongoing.
An MoD spokesman said: “We are aware of an ongoing police operation in relation to an incident near RAF Marham.
“It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”
Police are still piecing together exactly what happened during the incident to which they were called at just before 3.30pm yesterday.
Forensic experts are expected to work in the area around Marham Road and Squires Hill, which is likely to also remain closed today.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “The Met’s counter-terrorism command is aware but the investigation remains with Norfolk Constabulary.”
The UK threat level was already at severe following the events in Nice last week.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk Lorne Green said we “must not draw any conclusions” as investigations into the incident are in their early stages.
“The incident is under close investigation at the moment with an open mind,” he said. “There is nothing at the moment to strongly suggest one motive above another and it is all subject to a very intensive investigation at the moment.
“Incidents of this kind are very rare in our county and our constabulary, working in co-operation with other forces, are well-equipped to respond to any eventuality of violent crime, regardless of motive.
“There is a very close co-operation between the constabulary and the military police, which is ongoing at the moment.”
A families day being held at RAF Marham on Thursday will go ahead as planned, a spokeswoman for the base said.
The ticketed event, which is not open to the public, allows families and friends of servicemen and women to see the base and enjoy displays from aircraft.
The base is home to almost 10,000 people, including members of the RAF, Navy and Army, as well as the civil service and other staff.
Frontline squadrons of the RAF’s Tornado GR4 Force, which is focused on operations in the Middle East, operate from RAF Marham, while the Tactical Imagery-Intelligence Wing, the No 3 (RAF) Force Protection Wing and the No 93 Expeditionary Armament Squadron, the RAF’s specialist weapons support squadron, are also based there.
The station is being redeveloped ahead of the arrival of the F-35 Lightning Force, the UK’s new stealth fighter jet.