Three men have been released without charge after a suspected stolen BMW sparked a security alert in London. The men were arrested on suspicion of theft after the Belgian-registered car was pulled over at Blackfriars Road on 21 November. The suspects were released a day later.

Armed response officers stopped the car, a Metropolitan Police spokesperson said, and roads around Blackfriars Road were closed. Helicopters, ambulances and a fire engine also attended the scene and residents in nearby flats were reportedly told to "stay away from windows" amid fears of a bomb plot. But despite the heavy police presence, the spokesperson said the car was stopped by "armed officers on a routine patrol".

"At 13.44 hours on Saturday 21 November, officers stopped a vehicle on Blackfriars Road at the junction with St George's Circus," a police statement said. "The occupants of the vehicle – three men – were arrested on suspicion of theft of a motor vehicle. They currently remain in custody at a south London police station."

The action came as a curfew was put in place in Brussels on 21 November and its metro system and public buildings closing for the weekend following a "serious and imminent" terror threat. Sixteen people were arrested on Monday morning (23 November) in anti-terror raids in Belgium.