Police in north west England appeal for information as a consignment of powerful anti-tank mines is stolen from a goods train after it stops at Warrington.

Police tape (Getty)

10 packages of munitions, each containing four weapons cases, were on the train when it left Longtown, Cumbria, at 11:30pm on Wednesday.

They were found to be missing when the train arrived at Didcot, Oxfordshire several hours later. Seven were found near a railway line near Folley Lane, Warrington, but three packages are still missing, North-West Counter Terrorism Unit (NWCT) said.

The Ministry of Defence-owned munitions were taken off the train when it was temporarily stationary in Warrington, police said.

It is understood the robbery on Thursday morning may be the work of "opportunists" who broke into one of the stationary wagons apparently unaware of the sensitive cargo, rather than a targeted raid.

Lacking vital components

But investigators are concerned that the mines, which the British army uses to blow up bridges and buildings in Helmand, Afghanistan could fall into the wrong hands.

The L9 Bar mines contain explosives but need extra components to make them operational, said Whitehall sources.

It is understood Thursday’s heist was the work of "opportunists" who broke into one of the stationary wagons unaware of the sensitive cargo, rather than a targeted raid.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "At this stage there is nothing to suggest that the theft is terrorist-related. However due to the potential complexity of the investigation and specialist skills of officers, inquiries are being led by counter-terrorism officers."

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