Fears of chemical attack by Islamic militants led to evacuation of parts of London yesterday.
Police closed off three roads and evacuated Soho homes as a mysterious cloud of acrid smoke hovered over the district for three hours and the Hazardous Area Response Team Unit swept the deserted streets seeking its source.
After test kits showed no sign of polonium. plutonium, VX Sarin,or mustard gas , HART firefighters wearing specialist breathing apparatus broke down the door of a building suspected to contain the terrorist device and confronting staff and management of the Thai Cottage restaurant, identified the terrifying chemical agent as capaiscin. They emerged carrying a huge cooking pot containing about 9lb of smouldering dried chillies.
Chef Chalemchai Tangjariyapoon said he was preparing Nam Prik Pao, a red-hot Thai dip for fried prawn crackers:
" With extra-hot chillies that are deliberately burnt... I can understand why people who weren't Thai would not know what it was. But it doesn't smell like chemicals. I am a bit confused. "