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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 July, 2005, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
Residents woken by armed police
By Louise Scrivens
BBC News in Small Heath, Birmingham

Police activity at Hay Mills, Birmingham
Police made one arrest under the Terrorism Act at Small Heath
Dozens of Birmingham residents were given a shocking wake up call as anti-terror police moved into their street to arrest a man.

Old and young in Heybarnes Road, Small Heath, were told to leave their homes for their own safety on Wednesday morning.

As they made their way to shelter in a nearby Asda supermarket they expressed shock, bewilderment and fear at what was going on just a few doors away.

One resident whose house overlooks the property where the arrest took place was woken up just after 0500 BST by what she first thought were gun shots.

The working mother, who did not wish to be named, said: "I saw some officers running down the garden, they looked like they were wearing motorcycle helmets and were shouting a man's name.

Azam Choudhury
I've always thought I was living in a safe area, then this happens on my own doorstep
Azam Choudhury, resident

"I was terrified, absolutely terrified."

She said she believed the house where the man was arrested had been divided into two flats and he lived on his own.

"A woman who lives opposite the house told me she saw the man being handcuffed by his hands and legs and being escorted out of the house wearing a plastic suit," she said.

"I also saw white smoke coming from the building."

Pensioners Joan and Martin McDermott were also woken by the commotion.

Cordoned off

"It was a right racket," said Mr McDermott, who has lived in the road for 30 years.

"We heard the helicopter going over and thought that shots were being fired but we now think it was police breaking down the door.

A bomb disposal van and forensic teams in Small Heath
Bomb disposal teams are expected to carry out a controlled explosion

"Soon after we had a phone call from our son who was worried about us and told us what was happening, I was shocked."

He said they had no idea who the arrested man was.

Almost 200 houses surrounding the property where the arrest was made were evacuated and the whole road was cordoned off as 11 police vans moved in.

The road is off the busy Coventry Road and is lined with semi-detached family homes.

Family area

Staff from a fish and chip shop and other small businesses in the road were also stopped by police as they tried to get to work.

Another resident woken by the police activity was 42-year-old Azam Choudhury.

"I was woken at 5.30 and looked out of the window, I saw armed officers going into the house with bomb disposal people," he said.

Joan and Martin McDermott
Joan and Martin McDermott thought they heard gunshots

"I saw them come out carrying a blue suitcase."

He described the area as having a mixture of white and Asian people living there, many being families with young children.

"I've always thought I was living in a safe area, then this happens on my own doorstep," he said.

He was concerned about a red car which had been parked outside the house where the arrest took place.

"It had been just parked there for quite a while as if it had been dumped," he said.

"Then all of a sudden it was moved a couple of days ago and I haven't seen it since."

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