British police hold five on terror charges as Pope visits

Algerians being questioned, no change to Benedict XVIs itinerary

British police hold five on terror charges as Pope visits

But there will be no change to the pope’s itinerary and British authorities were “satisfied that our current policing plan is appropriate,” a police spokeswoman said. Britain’s broader terrorism threat assessment level was not increased.

News of the arrests emerged a day after the pope offered his strongest criticism yet of the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of the sexual abuse crisis. Later on Friday, he planned to mark a moment of ecumenical symbolism, praying together with the archbishop of Canterbury in a display of unity at Westminster Abbey, the spiritual heart of the Church of England.

The police spokeswoman said the arrests were made at a business in central London at 5:45 am and that five men, between 26 and 50 years old, were in custody “on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.”
The arrests came after detectives conducted “initial inquiries,” the spokeswoman said, without elaborating. Police officers subsequently searched offices in central London and homes in north and east London, but no “hazardous materials” were reported to have been found.

There was no immediate word on the identity of the suspects, although the BBC reported that the men were not British citizens and Sky News said they were Algerians.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev Federico Lombardi, told reporters that the pope had been informed of the threat while meeting Catholic school children at Saint Mary’s University chapel at Twickenham, southwest London, on Friday morning. “We have complete trust in the police,” the spokesman said. “The police are taking the necessary measures, there is no need to change plans.”

Concern about papal security has persisted since a Turkish gunman, Mehmet Ali Agca, attempted to kill Benedict’s predecessor, John Paul II, in St. Peter’s Square in Rome in May 1981.
The New York Times

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