British police shoot man in anti-terrorism raid
By Michael Holden
LONDON (Reuters) – British anti-terrorist police shot a man
in a dawn raid on Friday on a house they suspected could have
been used for making bombs or chemical weapons.
More than 250 officers, some wearing chemical, biological
and radiological protection suits, descended on the house in
east London at 4 a.m. in one of the biggest raids since last
July’s suicide bombings on the capital’s transport system.
“Because of the very specific nature of the intelligence,
we planned an operation that was designed to mitigate any
threat to the public either from firearms or from hazardous
substances,” said Peter Clarke, head of the UK’s anti-terrorism
Police said a 23-year-old man who was at the house was shot
by firearms officers. The man was arrested in hospital on
suspicion of “the commission, preparation and instigation of
acts of terrorism,” Clarke said.
A second man, 20, was also arrested at the scene under the
“What I can tell you is that the intelligence was such that
it demanded an intensive investigation and response,” Clarke
“The purpose of the investigation … is to prove or
disprove the intelligence that we have received. This is always
difficult, and sometimes the only way to do so is to mount an
operation such as that which we carried out this morning.”
A police spokeswoman said it was believed nothing
suspicious had been found in initial searches at the house.
The shooting incident was routinely referred to the
Independent Police Complaints Commission. They said the man’s
injuries were not life-threatening and one shot was fired.
Clarke said the operation followed close liaison between
police, the security services and the Health Protection Agency,
a body charged with guarding against infectious diseases.
Police said the raid was not linked to last July’s attacks
on London’s transport system which killed 52 commuters.
“Loads of police came along and broke the windows to get
inside the house,” said Nimesh Patel, 14, a neighbor on the
street in the ethnically mixed Forest Gate area of the capital.
“One guy came out with a shot to his shoulder. He was
moving and he was dizzy. They gave him some gas and took him
He said the family who lived at the house with two sons and
a daughter were friendly and described them as “very
Neighbor Student Dimple Hirani, 21, said: “My parents heard
loud bangs which we presumed were gunshots.”
She said she thought the family were Bangladeshi
“This is a very friendly area and this street in
particular. We all know each other,” she added.
Britain has been on high alert since the attacks last July
7 when four British Islamists blew themselves up on three
underground trains and a bus.
Two weeks later police said they foiled an identical plot.
London police Commissioner Ian Blair, Britain’s most senior
officer, has said three terrorism plots have been thwarted
since the July bombings and that groups were planning further
The shooting is the first during an anti-terrorism
operation since police shot dead Brazilian Jean Charles de
Menezes last July as he boarded an underground train in south
London after officers wrongly identified him as a suspected
(Additional reporting by Peter Graff and Catherine Hornby)