British police arrest 16 in anti-terrorism raids
LONDON, Sept 2 (Reuters) British police said today they had arrested 16 men in two separate anti-terrorism operations just three weeks after uncovering a suspected plot to bring down US-bound airliners over the Atlantic.
Fourteen of the men were held in London in an operation that a police source said focused on suspected ''training, recruitment and encouraging others to take part in terrorist activity''.
Anti-terrorist police in Manchester arrested two men early today and were carrying out three searches but this was not linked to the London arrests, police there said.
The BBC said 12 of the London arrests were made at or near a Chinese restaurant in south London that police in riot gear raided on last night, questioning diners for hours and taking some away in handcuffs.
The BBC said the probe may be linked to alleged ''training camps'' in Britain, saying there had been reports of militants getting together for adventure training as a means to develop closer ties.
The arrests came soon after the head of London police's anti-terrorist branch, Peter Clarke, said in a television interview that police were keeping tabs on thousands of British Muslims who they suspect may be involved in or support terrorism -- higher than previous official estimates.
Police said the 14 men held in south and east London yesterday night and early today morning were arrested in a ''pre-planned, intelligence-led operation''.
The men were suspected of ''the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism'', and were being held at a central London police station, police said.
MORE REUTERS SSC RK1449