published Friday, July 6th, 2012

UK police: 7 men arrested over terrorist offenses

CASSANDRA VINOGRAD

LONDON (AP) — Seven men have been arrested on suspicion of terrorist offenses in Britain after a routine vehicle search turned up firearms and weapons, police said today.

The arrests, which took place earlier this week, were announced one day after officers in London detained six other terror suspects using stun guns and smoke grenades in early-morning swoops, including one on a home close to London's Olympic Park.

In that case, police insisted that the suspects' alleged plans to stage attacks had no link to London's upcoming Summer Games, which begin on July 27.

West Midlands Police on Friday also said there was nothing to suggest the suspects were preparing to target the Olympics or that the arrests were linked to the London raids.

They said the arrests came after a car was stopped on the M1 motorway in South Yorkshire on June 30 and impounded for not having insurance. It said "firearms, offensive weapons and other material" were later found hidden in the vehicle, which prompted police to trace and arrest the driver, passenger and other suspects.

Police said three of the men were arrested Tuesday, three on Wednesday and one on Thursday. Six of them are in their twenties and from the West Midlands area of England, while one is in his 40s and from West Yorkshire.

The men have been arrested on suspicion of preparing or instigating acts of terrorism. They were being questioned by officers and their residences were searched.

The items found in the vehicle were undergoing forensic testing.

Britain's terror level is currently ranked as substantial — the third highest point on a five-point scale — and means an attack is a strong possibility. Intelligence officials say there has been an expected increase in chatter among extremist groups ahead of the Olympics, but there are still no specific or credible threats targeting the games.

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