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FIVE terror suspects were last night being questioned by detectives after being arrested outside the Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria.
Counter-terror police also raided four houses in east London linked to the suspects, who were held after a vehicle stop-check near one of Britain’s most sensitive nuclear installations.
A police spokesman would not be drawn on reports the suspects had been filming the Sellafield site and are all Bangladeshi.
The gang of five men, all in their 20s and from London, were held 300 miles from their homes, and just hours after news broke of the killing of Osama bin Laden in a raid by US special forces in Pakistan.
It put the Western world on high alert of possible revenge attacks from al-Qaida, amid threats of a “nuclear hellstorm” on the West if bin Laden was ever captured or killed.
The suspects were detained at 4.32pm on Monday following a stop check on their vehicle by officers from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, who police the vast Sellafield site in West Cumbria.
The five were then arrested under the Terrorism Act by officers from Cumbria Police, held in custody in Carlisle overnight and transferred to Manchester yesterday morning to be dealt with by the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, based in the city.
After details of the arrests were released by the Cumbria force and Greater Manchester Police, (GMP) Scotland Yard released details of the raids on four houses in east London.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed the raids formed part of the investigations into the men held at Sellafield, following information passed to them by GMP.
The arrests are not believed to have been intelligence-led, but as a direct result of the initial police stop check on the suspects’ vehicle.
A statement from GMP added: “At this stage we are not aware of any connection to recent events in Pakistan.”
The terror arrests came outside the Sellafield site, which handles highly dangerous nuclear material. And they were made within hours of the news breaking that Osama bin Laden had been killed.
At the same time, the public was being warned to remain extra vigilant for fear of a reprisal from groups sympathetic to al-Qaida.
Secret information revealed by WikiLeaks last week detailed threats from a terror suspect interrogated at Guantanamo Bay who spoke of al-Qaida unleashing a “nuclear hellstorm” of revenge if bin Laden, the founder and leader of the terror group, was ever captured or killed by forces from the West.
According to reports last year, a counter-terrorism review of Britain’s nuclear power plants was carried out after fears arose over safety at Sellafield.
Officials at HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, responsible for assessing the work of police forces across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, had begun an urgent assessment, it was claimed.
Concerns about protecting the plant may have come to light during an exercise in which special forces posed as terrorists to test security, according to a report in The Times, last December.
The Civil Nuclear Constabulary, which has a force of about 800 officers, most of whom are trained marksmen, is tasked with protecting the country’s nuclear estate from the threat of international terrorism and has recently upgraded the quality and type of weapons and ammunition used by staff.
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