A FORMER counter-terror chief has warned the Liverpool bomb could be "the first of many" in a Christmas bombing campaign.

The ex-Scotland Yard top cop sounded the alarm as spy chiefs raised the UK's terror threat to severe following the Remembrance Day blast.

Poppy Day bomber Emad Jamil Al-Swealmeen, 32, blew himself up outside a hospital seconds before a two-minute silence for Britain's war dead at 11am.

Security officials have warned of more possible lone wolf terror attacks during the festive period.

Spy bosses say it is “highly likely” fanatics will attempt atrocities in the wake of thehospital bomb bid.

Yesterday, they raised the terror risk in the UK from “substantial” to “severe” — amid warnings that crowded places such as festive markets could be targeted.

One ex-counter-terror commander warned that fears of a bombing offensive next month may be why the threat level was hiked.

The former Scotland Yard chief told The Telegraph: "It is almost certainly linked to Christmas.

"This could be the first of several. It is hard to believe it is a one-off."

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the decision was taken because Sunday’s strike was “the second in a month”.

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It followed the slaying of Tory MP Sir David Amess at a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15.

Boris Johnson said the car blast at Liverpool Women’s Hospital was “a stark reminder of the need for us all to remain utterly vigilant”.

But the job of the security services’ has been made much harder by an increase in lone wolf attackers not on watch lists or known to MI5.

Last month, The Sun revealed Britain’s spy front line was at “breaking point” trying to keep tabs on thousands of newly-radicalised fanatics amid stretched budgets.

Someone who might not seem to pose a risk today, might suddenly decide to carry out an attack tomorrow

Dr Dan Lomas, Lecturer in intelligence and security studies at Brunel University, said: “Someone who might not seem to pose a risk today, might suddenly decide to carry out an attack tomorrow.”

Rings of steel have been put around Christmas markets in the past to foil vehicle attacks.

In 2017, terror fears led to increased security at Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park.

Earlier this year, MI5 boss Ken McCallum said: “Our job is to deal with a one in a million case. Where the living room is a terrorist living room.”

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