July 10, 2005

UK police make three anti-terrorism arrests

By Gideon Long

LONDON (Reuters) - British police arrested three terrorist
suspects on Sunday at Heathrow airport but said they had no
reason so far to link them to last week's suspected al Qaeda
bombings in London.

"Three people have been arrested under the Prevention of
Terrorism Act at Heathrow airport," Scotland Yard Deputy
Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick told a news conference.

The arrests were made early on Sunday but he did not say
whether the suspects were entering or leaving the country.

Paddick said it would be "pure speculation" to link them to
last Thursday's bombings on three underground trains and a bus,
from which police have recovered 49 bodies and are still
retrieving more from a tunnel below King's Cross station.

He later told Sky television: "My understanding is these
are reasonably routine arrests under the Prevention of
Terrorism Act ... there is no connection that we know of at
this stage."

Britain has detained more than 700 people under
anti-terrorism laws since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the
United States. Of these, around 120 have been charged with
terrorism offences and another 135 charged under other

Police have so far not reported any arrests directly linked
to deadliest militant attack on its capital, which the
government says bear the hallmark of the al Qaeda network that
carried out the Sept. 11 attacks.

They have been at pains to stress the inquiry will require
slow and meticulous work, including the gathering of forensic
evidence from the four bomb sites, three of which are in subway


Paddick said police had received important information from
members of the public, who had placed 1,700 calls to a special
investigation hotline.

"A considerable number of these calls are proving to be
very, very valuable to us," he said.

Police say the three subway bombs went off almost
simultaneously, making it more likely they were detonated by
timers, rather than suicide bombers. That means the bombers may
still be at large and could strike again, they said.

A huge overnight security alert in Britain's second city of
Birmingham kept Britons on edge on Sunday.

Police evacuated 20,000 people from the city center on
Saturday night and carried out four controlled explosions on a
bus. They found no bombs but said the drastic measures were
fully justified.

"The threat that we responded to yesterday was very
specific," West Midlands police chief constable Paul Scott-Lee
told a news conference.

"It was specific about the time and also the locations ...
The people of Birmingham were in danger last night."

In London, anxious relatives continued to scour hospitals
in search of loved ones missing since Thursday's blasts -- the
worst peacetime attacks on the British capital.

Walls, bus stops and telephone boxes close to King's Cross
station, scene of the worst blast, were covered with
photographs of missing people and appeals for information about

Wellwishers have left hundreds of bouquets of flowers
outside the station, many accompanied by messages testifying to
London's multi-ethnic and multinational mix.

"Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist. We are
all Londoners," read one message scrawled on a Union Jack flag.

"Our prayers are with you. Keep the faith. From all South
Africans," read another written on that nation's flag.

In Rome, Pope Benedict lamented what he termed "revolting
terrorist acts" and prayed for the dead and the 700 injured.