Fri, Jul 29, 2005 - Page 7 News List

UK police chief warns of more bombings

`TERROR CELLS' Sir Ian Blair's comments came just hours after nine men were arrested in south London


Police patrol London's Leicester Square yesterday. Anti-terrorist officers investigating the July 21 failed attacks on London's transport system arrested nine men yesterday.


Britain's most senior police officer warned yesterday that terrorists responsible for last week's failed bombings on London's transport system could strike again, as officers arrested a further nine men in dawn raids.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair also warned that other terror cells could be planning attacks, and said the country faced "a somber moment."

"It does remain possible that those at large will strike again," Blair told a meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority.

"It does also remain possible that there are other cells who are capable and intent on striking again," he said.

Scotland Yard police headquarters said nine men were arrested under the Terrorism Act at two properties in the neighborhood of Tooting, south London, early yesterday morning.

They were being held in a central London police station.

One of the four men suspected of carrying out last Thursday's failed attacks was arrested in Birmingham on Wednesday. Yasin Hassan Omar, 24, was being questioned at a top-security police station in London.

Blair said the failed July 21 attacks, which came two weeks after 52 people were killed by four men who blew themselves up on three subway trains and a bus, was not a sign the terrorists had been weakened in any way.

"This is not the B team. These weren't the amateurs. They made a mistake. They only made one mistake, and we're very, very lucky," he said.

Blair said he was confident that police would find the bombers -- as well as whoever backed them.

"The carnage that would have occurred had those bombs gone off would have at least been equivalent of those on July 7, and therefore it is absolutely imperative that we find those responsible," Blair said.

Meanwhile, police deployed the largest number of officers ever on Britain's rail network to reassure the public -- three weeks on from the July 7 attacks that killed 56 people, including the four suicide bombers, and following last Thursday's botched attacks.

Yesterday's dawn raids brought to 20 the total number of people in police custody in connection with last week's failed bombings.

Residents in Tooting said police had arrested three men who lived in an apartment above a fast food takeaway selling halal burgers.

The restaurant owner, who gave his name as Ali, said the men who lived there did not seem to be suspicious in any way.

Six other men were arrested from a property in nearby Garratt Terrace, a street opposite the Tooting Broadway subway station.

"There were about a dozen armed police officers shouting `Come on out or we'll send the dogs in.' And then I saw one large, older-looking Asian man being led out. He was dressed in a white gown or robe," said local resident Ben Astbury, 25, who watched the raid from his house in Garratt Lane.

Omar, a Somali citizen with British residency, was arrested in a dramatic raid by dozens of anti-terrorist police and bomb disposal experts on Wednesday in Birmingham. He is suspected of trying to blow up the Warren Street subway station last Thursday.

ABC News, meanwhile, reported that British authorities investigating the July 7 attack had found 12 bombs and four improvised detonators in the trunk of the car of one of the suspected suicide bombers 56 km outside of London five days after the deadly explosions.

ABC broadcast photos of the findings, including a glass bottle apparently packed with explosives and covered in nails.

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