POLICE last night pledged to leave no stone unturned in a bid to catch masked men who caused an “almighty explosion” as they targeted a cash machine at a Bradford supermarket.

Residents spoke of hearing a “loud bang” and feeling their homes shake before seeing flames and smoke among the debris outside Asda in New Line, Greengates, in the early hours of Monday.

The incident has left residents shocked and one child, who lives near the scene and was awoken by the bang, was said to be “petrified”.

Specialist officers from West Yorkshire Police are now working alongside Bradford detectives and neighbouring police forces to identify the suspects.

At least ten cash machines have been targeted in the Bradford area in the last 12 months, including incidents in Oxenhope, Addingham, Cullingworth, Clayton, Steeton, Shipley, Allerton, Fairweather Green, Pudsey and Thornton.

Police have revealed that nine people have been arrested in connection with attacks on cash machines in Bradford district since January of this year, with enquiries continuing to identify further suspects.

Meanwhile, an MP and a high-profile local councillor have called for tighter regulations on the sale of pressurised gas cylinders amid fears that brazen raiders are using them to create explosions to blast cash points from their housings.

Imran Hussain, MP for Bradford East, said: "Liquid nitrogen and helium can both be extremely dangerous in the right conditions, and as they are clearly being used by criminals who are exploiting these conditions, it is shocking that such explosive substances can be bought over the counter or online with little to no checks.

“We need much tighter checks and restrictions on the purchase of these substances to prevent their use by criminals, without compromising industrial use, and I have written to the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police and the Home Office, urging them to take sensible action to do so before even more serious harm is caused.”

Cllr Jeanette Sunderland, ward councillor for Idle and Thackley, which covers Greengates, said: “There’s always grounds for tightening restrictions on gas cylinders.

“Not just because it’s an explosive gas, but it is potentially dangerous to health. For instance, the number of children inhaling helium is out of control.

“There’s clearly got to be a case for the Health and Wellbeing Board to evaluate accidents and incidents that have involved pressurised gas.

“As a member of the Fire Authority I will be asking questions of them as to whether or not they want to see a change in regulations.”

Residents living opposite the supermarket, Exel Chemist and NatWest bank felt their homes shake during the blast, which took place at around 2.20am.

The incident left debris, including metal, bolts and nails strewn across the car park.

A woman, who lives opposite the scene with her family, said: “We heard an almighty bang and thought it had to be a car crash.

“I called the police and my partner could see flames coming from where the cashpoint was.

“I saw two guys in balaclavas and all in black facing each other, carrying something across the car park towards a black VW Golf and you could hear them shouting ‘come on, come on’.

“It’s a massive shock and hard to believe what we’ve just seen.”

She said one of her children heard the bang and was “absolutely petrified”.

“You hear about them ram raiding ATMs, but to use an explosive or whatever they have used is crazy.”

John Dalby, 66, a resident of New Line, added: “I was still up when it happened.

“I thought somebody had firebombed the cars at the back of the houses or bombed Sainsbury’s behind us.

“I thought it might have been the NatWest bank or the chemist, because that’s just been refurbished, but then it occurred to me that it’s probably the ATM that’s gone.”

Janet Kaley, 68, added: “It has really upset me. It’s so close to home that it’s frightening.

“I go in there every day for my paper and it’s a two-minute walk from my house. I know all the staff well and I’m upset for them.”

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Howard, of Bradford District Police, said: “Detectives in Bradford District are working closely with West Yorkshire Police’s specialist resources and neighbouring forces to identify suspects and tackle this crime.

“Crime prevention work is also ongoing with cash machine providers across West Yorkshire to see how further thefts can be prevented.

“Nine people have been arrested in connection with attacks on cash machines in Bradford District since January of this year and enquiries are continuing to identify further suspects.

“These attacks tend to be carried out quickly, which means that the criminals often leave empty-handed. Different methods have been used to get in to the machines.

“Members of the public can assist by reporting any suspicious activity around cash machines, particularly where 4x4-type vehicles and high-powered cars are present or appear to be in convoy.

“Information can be reported by calling 101 or using one of the Contact Us options on the West Yorkshire Police website. If a crime is in progress please call 999.”

Police said they were called at 2.26am on Monday to a report of an explosion and a black Golf driving away from New Line in Greengates.

The spokesman said: “Officers attended and secured the scene while an area search was conducted for the suspect vehicle.”

Anyone who can assist is asked to contact Bradford District CID on 101, quoting 13180281952 or use the Contact Us options on the West Yorkshire Police website. Information can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.