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UK threat level remains critical

BBC | August 11 2006

The UK security threat level is to stay at "critical" following a suspected plot to blow up airliners, Home Secretary John Reid has said.

He said he believed the main suspects were in custody but it was right to "err on the side of caution".

Everyone faced the threat and everyone "should respond with a common purpose and common solidarity", Mr Reid said.

Nineteen of 24 people held on suspicion of plotting to blow up planes have had their UK assets frozen.

The Bank of England named the 19 and said it would be an offence to make their money available without a licence from the Treasury.

Those arrested are being questioned by anti-terrorism police who said the plot could have led to "mass murder".

'Tolerance and resilience'

It is thought that the suspects were planning to blow up several planes by using liquid explosives carried in soft-drink bottles, and detonators disguised as electronic equipment.

UK police said the explosions could have caused "mass murder on an unimaginable scale".

Officials in Pakistan said security forces in the country had arrested two British men of Pakistani origin in connection with the alleged plot.

They were picked up from Lahore and Karachi cities last week. On Thursday, Pakistan announced it had made a number of arrests in connection with the investigation.

At a news conference, Mr Reid said he was "grateful" for the help of the international community, in particular Pakistan, in disrupting the suspected plot.

He said he would be chairing another meeting of Cobra - the government's emergencies committee - on Friday.

The home secretary also made a plea for all communities to work together to face the danger.

"More than ever we need to draw on the tolerance and resilience of all parts of our community in the days ahead," he said.

"This is a common threat to all of us and we should respond - all of us - with a common purpose and common solidarity.

"This is in the nature of the British people and that common solidarity and common cause is, I believe, now our most precious asset and we should foster it in all sections of our community."

Addresses searched

The suspects were rounded up in raids in London, High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, and the West Midlands. All are being held in London.

Searches continued at several addresses and people were evacuated from some homes in High Wycombe.

Following the police operation, airports throughout the UK issued strict new security measures.

Armed police have been deployed in many airports and passengers are no longer allowed to take their hand luggage into the cabin.

Many flights on Thursday were grounded and further delays were expected on Friday.

Treasury action

Ed Balls, economic secretary to the Treasury, said in a statement that the decision to take financial action was taken on the advice of the police and security services.

"The Treasury has instructed the Bank of England to issue notices to effect a freeze of the assets of a number of individuals arrested in yesterday's operations," he said.

This was done under the terms of the Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2001, he said.

"The Treasury will review the need for further use of our asset-freezing powers as we receive further advice from the police and security services."

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