Britain arrests five in probe of terrorist links to Belgium, France

Counter-terrorism police in Britain on Friday said they had arrested five suspects during investigations following the recent terrorist attacks in Belgium and France.

Officers arrested three men aged 26, 40 and 59 and a 29-year-old woman in the city of Birmingham late Thursday, followed by the arrest of 26-year-old man at Gatwick Airport near London early Friday, West Midlands Police said in a statement.

The statement said all five were arrested "on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism," during investigations of potential threats to Britain following the attacks in Brussels and Paris.

"This action forms part of an extensive investigation by West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, together with the wider counter-terrorism network, [intelligence agency] MI5 and international partners including Belgian and French authorities to address any associated threat to the UK following the attacks in Europe," said Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, who heads the counter-terrorism unit.

"The arrests were pre-planned and intelligence-led," Beale said. "There was no risk to the public at any time and there is no information to suggest an attack in the UK was being planned."

Belgian terrorist suspect Mohamed Abrini visited Birmingham last year and photographed a football stadium, media reports quoted French intelligence sources as saying.

Abrini has confessed to taking part in a bomb attack on Brussels airport on March 22 and is suspected of involvement in the terrorist attacks that rocked Paris in November.

The suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, also visited Birmingham in October, reports said.

Asked about the reports in parliament last month, Home Secretary Theresa May declined to comment, citing the need to protect ongoing investigations.

Last update: Fri, 15/04/2016 - 15:45
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