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Thousands to be deployed for airport security

Aidan Hennigan / Irish Examiner | August 19 2006

WHILE passenger checks continue at British airports, thousands of extra police are to be deployed in one of the largest security operations of modern times.

Officers from 43 forces in England, Wales, Scotland and the North, many of whom specialise in search and evidence recovery techniques are to investigate the plane bombing plot and possibly other such terrorist threats.

However, airlines are demanding that airports be brought back to normal within a week or the British Airports Authority will face legal action for loss of profits.

It is argued that if airport security and air travel are not brought back to normal the airports authority will have handed terrorists and extremists an unbelieveable and undeserved public relations victory.

However, travellers were warned there would be no early end to airport delays in Britain as police disclosed the huge scale of their investigation into the alleged transatlantic airline terror plot.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has ruled out any imminent return to “normal” airport security measures, despite an ultimatum from budget airline Ryanair.

The Irish no-frills carrier said it would sue the British government for compensation for delays unless usual security arrangements resumed within a week.

But the department said it had “no intention of compromising security” and did not anticipate changes in the next week.

Meanwhile, a group of British tourists endured a terrifying diversion of their holiday flight after the captain told them a note had been found saying there was a bomb on the plane.

The Boeing 767 operated by Sussex-based charter carrier Excel Airways landed safely at Brindisi airport in southern Italy.

The aircraft was escorted by an Italian air force F16 fighter aircraft and landed at Brindisi at 2.45pm Irish time.

An Excel Airways spokes- man said tonight: “A note on a sickbag was found which said, ‘There is a bomb on this aircraft’. This note was passed among passengers before being handed to a cabin crew member who handed it to the cockpit crew.”

Meanwhile, it was reported that police investigating the alleged plot had found a suitcase containing components needed to make an explosive device.

The discovery is thought to have been made in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, where specialist officers are combing King’s Wood for traces of explosives or evidence of explosive tests, the BBC reported.

Scotland Yard has refused to comment on the reports.

Intelligence officials in Pakistan claimed Rashid Rauf, a key suspect in the alleged plot, had links with an outlawed Pakistani militant group and met al-Qaida figures inside Pakistan in the lead-up to his arrest.

Rauf, a British national and the brother of one of those detained in Britain, was held in Pakistan last week and is widely believed to have triggered the police operation to smash the alleged plot.



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