British police arrest nine men in bomb probe
By Michael Holden
LONDON (Reuters) – British police arrested nine men under
anti-terrorism laws on Thursday as they intensified their
investigation into two waves of attacks on London’s transport
system which have left London on high alert.
But a police spokeswoman said the suspects held in Tooting,
south London, were not the three suspected bombers they still
seek after the botched July 21 attacks on the capital.
Police held six at one address and three at another.
“We are still looking for three men,” a police spokeswoman
said. “Searches at the addresses are ongoing.”
Detectives continued to question one of the suspected
bombers in last week’s botched attacks.
They hope Wednesday’s arrest of Yasin Hassan Omar, 24, who
they say planted a bomb on an underground train last week, will
provide a breakthrough in the hunt for three other suspects
whom they warn could attack again.
Three weeks to the day after suicide bombers killed 52
people in an attack the police have linked to al Qaeda and one
week after the failed bomb attacks, the capital remained on
Police swamped the city where residents have become used to
the wail of police sirens. Officers, some brought in from
outside London, stood outside many stations, an unusual sight
British Transport Police said some leave had been canceled
as the force stepped up its high-profile campaign.
“We are on very high alert. It’s part of a continuing
effort to have high-visibilty policing on stations,” a
spokesman for British Transport Police said.
Opinion polls show a majority of Britons fear Islamist
militants could target their country in a sustained campaign.
Fears rose further after the U.S. television channel ABC,
quoting unidentified investigation sources, said detectives
probing the July 7 bombings had found 16 bombs in a car one of
the attackers rented.
Pictures of the devices showed bottles studded with nails
to act as shrapnel.
Omar, who came to Britain from Somalia as a child refugee,
was wanted in connection with an attempted attack at London’s
Warren Street underground station on July 21.
Armed police used a stun gun when they arrested him in a
dawn raid on a house in the central English city of Birmingham.
Police were under pressure to exercise caution after they
shot dead Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes in London on Friday
because they mistook him for a suicide bomber.
Newspapers quoted unidentified security sources as saying
police thought Omar may have had a bomb in a rucksack he had in
the house but were under orders to capture him alive.
“He is much more useful alive than dead,” the Sun tabloid
quoted one security source as saying.
Andrew Wilkinson, who witnessed the arrest, told the Daily
Mirror: “We heard an almighty crashing sound and saw the road
full of cops (police). A few minutes later they brought out a
guy in a plastic suit.”
Security analysts said police would adopt a “softly, softly
approach” when questioning Omar.
Three other men were detained at another address in the
Birmingham area and houses were searched across London on
Wednesday. Police also arrested three women in a raid in south
London on suspicion of harbouring suspects.