Jogger in weight vest mistaken for bomber

Armed police confronted an Iranian student wearing a weight vest while out jogging amid fears he was a suicide bomber, a police chief said yesterday.

Armed officers made Goudarz Karimi, 25, remove the 30kg vest so it could be checked for explosives during the incident in Southfield Road, Oxford, at 3.20pm on Monday.

Superintendent Amanda Pearson, of Thames Valley Police, said the force was responding to a call from a member of the public who was concerned about a man wearing what he thought was a vest carrying explosives.

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Officers advised the man to wear his coat over the vest in future.

Mr Karimi said he feared his ethnic origin sparked the concerns.

“I’m 100 per cent sure that if I was blond with Caucasian skin type nobody would have noticed and said anything about it, but I’m of dark skin complexion and from Iran and I’m sure that’s related to it,” he said.

Mr Karimi added: “The police told me to take my vest off and to go home and I don’t see why I should.”

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Ms Pearson said: “The officers have to weigh up a number of factors to determine if a stop and search is proportionate and justified, and the decision to stop and search would not be made on ethnicity alone and wasn’t in this case.”

She added: “In order to stop any further calls from members of the public, the gentleman was asked to put his coat on, which he agreed to do.”

Mr Karimi is studying for a PhD in physiology, anatomy and genetics at Oxford University.