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The BBC's Stephen Cape
"A worrying escalation of the type of weaponry used by the underworld"
 real 56k

Friday, 2 February, 2001, 09:08 GMT
Five held in anti-terrorist raid
Sutherland Road, Ealing
Police raided the Ealing address early on Thursday
Police have arrested five men on suspicion of conspiring to cause explosions following a dawn raid in west London.

Officers from the anti-terrorist branch and armed units raided an address in Sutherland Road, Ealing, at 0730GMT.

The police say they do not believe there is any link to Irish republican groups or animal rights activists.

Later, about 20 armed police searched an address a quarter of a mile away, while 50 officers raided a house in Southend, Essex.

Chief Superintendent Peter Goulding said: "We believe that as a result of this operation we have prevented a potential pipe-bomb attack."

Terrorist attacks

And a police spokesman said detectives were investigating "alleged criminal activity".


There is no evidence to suggest that these arrests and seizures are linked to Irish terrorism

Police spokesman
Officers have recovered a number of items which are being examined by forensic experts.

The spokesman said: "At this stage of the investigation, there is no evidence to suggest that these arrests and seizures are linked to Irish terrorism, nor the three terrorist attacks in London last year."

Those attacks, including one on a rail line near Ealing, were believed to be the work of dissident republicans from the breakaway Real IRA.

No shots were fired in Thursday's operation, but some residents living nearby were temporarily evacuated for their own safety as a precaution. They have since been allowed to return to their homes.

Police continued to search for further evidence at the four-room, ground-floor flat. Explosives officers also attended the scene.

Further raids

In the second raid at 1530GMT, about 20 armed police searched an address in Fosse Way, Ealing, about half a mile from Sutherland Road.

Officers with sniffer dogs also combed a nearby field which backs onto a special needs school.

At the same time 50 officers from the Essex force raided a house in Southend, but police said on Friday that it is no longer part of the investigation.

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