ARMY bomb disposal experts blew up a bag of mince pies outside Debenhams in Oxford in December 1988, amid fears the package could contain a firebomb.

The alarm was raised just after 1pm on December 3 when a bulging envelope was spotted on railings opposite the store.

A square object could be seen inside the package and grease had seeped through the paper.

Inspector John Simpson of Oxford police said: "We were not happy about it and called bomb disposal experts to deal with it."

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Debenhams was closed off immediately and Magdalen Street was sealed off for two hours.

The bomb disposal team then used a robot device to make a controlled explosion of the package.

This revealed it contained about half a dozen mince pies. A bag was also blown up in nearby Friars Entry, but Army experts discovered later it held only rubbish.

Department stores across the UK had been on alert that week after real firebombs were found at major stores in several cities.

Inspectors Simpsons told the Oxford Mail: "It's better to be safe than sorry."