June 5, 2006

UK police pursue “chemical bomb” search after raid

By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) - British police said on Monday they were
still searching for evidence of a chemical bomb in a house
raided in the capital last week, but declined to comment on
reports they acted on faulty intelligence.

Two brothers, aged 23 and 20, were arrested during the dawn
raid last Friday when more than 250 police officers, some in
chemical protection suits, stormed their house in east London.

One man was shot in the shoulder during the raid, one of
the biggest since last July's suicide bombings in London.

Britain has been on high alert since the attacks when four
British Islamists blew themselves up on underground trains and
a bus, killing 52 commuters and injuring about 700.

Police sources said specific intelligence had suggested the
house might have been used to make a toxic bomb for an attack
in Britain. Lawyers for the men say they deny all accusations.

Newspaper reports on Monday quoted unnamed police sources
and counter-terrorism officials as saying doubt is growing
about whether any evidence of chemical devices or bombs will be

"The search is ongoing at present," said a spokesman for
London's Scotland Yard police headquarters. "It's going to be
very thorough and is likely to take a few days. We are not
commenting on speculation about what has or hasn't been found."

The arrested men -- who live in the ethnically mixed Forest
Gate area of east London which has a sizeable Muslim population
-- were being held at London's Paddington Green police station.

There were confused reports about how the 23-year-old
suspect suffered a gunshot wound during the raid.

Both men's lawyers rejected reports he had been shot by his
brother in a struggle with police, insisting an officer fired.

Some newspapers on Monday quoted police sources as saying
the gun may have been fired accidentally during a struggle.

Police shot dead an innocent Brazilian man, Jean Charles de
Menezes, in the weeks after the July attacks. They wrongly
identified Menezes, a 27-year-old electrician living in London,
as a suicide bomber.

"If the intelligence was wrong, we possibly have egg on our
faces. We have wasted a lot of time, put a lot of people out,
one man has been shot and two have been arrested," the source
was quoted as saying, a police source told the Daily Telegraph.