AN absent-minded soldier sparked a bomb alert when he left a dummy rocket in the back of a hire car.
Staff at a Hertz car rental office in Picardy Place called police after spotting the realistic mortar used in training exercises.
Staff at the rental office and a nearby supermarket were evacuated and had to spend three hours standing in the cold as a Navy bomb disposal team raced to the scene.
It is understood the car was handed back by a sergeant who travelled from England to take part in a training exercise. The dummy rocket should have been locked up with other equipment afterwards.
A source said: “It became clear quite quickly that it was a fake, but the bomb disposal experts still had to have a look at it.”
An army spokeswoman said: “An investigation is under way. Someone will have to account for the fact it was missing and in the back of a car.”