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Police search for answers after IED explosion in Barrie, Ont. parking lot

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One day after a vehicle explosion at an Anne Street apartment complex, Barrie police returned to a west-end neighbourhood to search for answers. 

Police said an improvised explosive device (IED) is believed to have been placed on a vehicle in the 108-A Anne Street North parking lot and was detonated around 3 a.m., startling residents, with many reporting to 911 that they heard a loud bang.

Officers arrived to find two damaged vehicles and immediately evacuated residents in the adjacent apartment building and anyone nearby.

"Today, the real work really begins," said Peter Leon, Barrie Police Services Corporate Communications Coordinator. "Yesterday was obviously an exercise that had to be undertaken. We were able to neutralize the threat, but now we have the questions that need to be answered, and these are questions that not only police are looking into, but we know that the community is also looking for."

Several roads in the area were closed early Wednesday morning, including Anne and Wellington Streets, Anne Street and Gibbon Drive, Leacock Drive and Edgehill Drive, but were reopened Wednesday evening.

While the explosion was contained to the parking lot, Leon said police have been canvasing areas north and south along Anne Street for information.

"To the north, there is a number of residences up that way and to the south, it's primarily businesses," he added. "Again, somebody is going to have camera surveillance that will assist us."

CTV Public Safety Analyst and former OPP commissioner Chris Lewis believes the incident to be targeted.

As officers search the area, Lewis said forensics will work on determining what the device was made from.

"An IED is kind of a crude bomb, so to speak, but some can be very sophisticated," Lewis said. "The big Oklahoma City government building bombing was made from things like fertilizer and diesel fuel that you can buy from home, but more modern times, people can find explosive materials on the black market. It's not something you can legally find."

Lewis added that IED explosions like this aren't common outside of organized crime on home soil.

"Bikers and the mob, even in the Toronto Area, York Region has had multiple bombings," he said. "This is happening in Barrie, but that doesn't necessarily mean the cause of this is in Barrie. The intended target or targets were in Barrie, but does that mean they did something here or are associated with Barrie other than being here? Possibly not."

The vehicle's owner has not been identified, and police have yet to make an arrest.

Meanwhile, Barrie police thanked residents for their cooperation as officers dealt with the initial blast and are asking anyone with information to contact police or Crime Stoppers.

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