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Monday, 17 February, 2003, 13:28 GMT
UK airports remain on high alert
Emergency vehicles surround the Concorde model at Heathrow
The security is heavy at Heathrow Airport
Tight security is still in force at airports across the UK, amid heightened fears of an attack by terrorists.

Heathrow Airport's Terminal Two was closed for an hour an a half on Friday after a "suspect package" - later declared safe - was found.

Two people arrested in Hounslow, near Heathrow, on Thursday have been released without charge.

Anti-terrorist police have handed four others over to the immigration authorities, after separate arrests on Thursday in Langley, Berkshire, near Heathrow.

Meanwhile a 37-year-old Venezuelan man is still being questioned by anti-terrorist police, after being caught trying to smuggle a live grenade through customs at Gatwick.

British Airways staff are travelling to Venezuela to investigate how the man managed to board a plane without the weapon being detected.

Checks are being made in the capital Caracas to establish his background while he remains at high security Paddington Green police station in London.

Gatwick passengers remain defiant

The UK security alerts have caused disruption for passengers with many flights cancelled or delayed.

BAA, which operates Heathrow airport, said the terminal two evacuation would cause delays to flights serving some European destinations.

Flights are now back to normal at Gatwick, following the discovery of the hand grenade.

The four people arrested in Langley - all in their early 20s - are being held by Thames Valley Police.

It is understood the arrests are "precautionary" and not thought to be significant.

The two men arrested in Hounslow, separate to the arrests in Langley were held under the Terrorism Act near the airport on Thursday.

They were released on Friday by police without charge. One is in the custody of the Immigration Service.

West Yorkshire police have also confirmed two men have been arrested under the Terrorism Act after being found acting suspiciously around the perimeter fence of Leeds-Bradford Airport.

The pair - believed to be Iraqi Kurds aged 25 and 26 - are being questioned at stations in West Yorkshire after being detained at 1900 GMT on Thursday evening.

The police also seized a car near the perimeter fence.

Police checking cars in a village near Heathrow
The knock-on disruption from the grenade incident at Gatwick Airport resulted in the closure of the north terminal and led to some flights being cancelled.

Thousands of passengers had to stay at Gatwick Airport or at local hotels overnight, after 21 outgoing flights were cancelled and many more disrupted as experts dealt with the grenade.

Some passengers were left confused and angry, saying information was poor.

But some were happy to be patient.

Julie Coppin, 47, from Brentwood, Essex, said: "It's what should be done all the time anyway. I think there should be more security."

Intelligence

British Airways said a further 10 inbound flights to the North Terminal and one outbound, the 0750 GMT to Luxembourg, had been cancelled on Friday.

A spokeswoman said most of the cancelled flights were short-haul flights from destinations such as Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt.

We'll do everything that is required to deal with the threat that we perceive at the moment

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Trotter, Met Police

Heathrow airport has been guarded by hundreds of troops and more than 1,000 police officers since Tuesday, following MI5 intelligence that a group was plotting to shoot down an aircraft.

Ministers have angrily denied the Heathrow operation - which at one point involved tanks and other armoured vehicles - was a publicity stunt ahead of a war against Iraq.

Scotland Yard deputy assistant commissioner Andy Trotter said the Metropolitan Police was doing all it could to protect the capital.

"We'll do everything that is required to deal with the threat that we perceive at the moment," he said.

At Stansted Airport the access road was closed to the public and guarded by armed police from 0400 GMT to 0900 GMT on Friday due to the arrival and departure of Israeli airline El Al flights to Tel Aviv, which are considered a potential target for terrorists.

However, it has since reopened.

Extra police have also been drafted in at other airports, including Manchester, Leeds Bradford and Jersey.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"Heathrow today was the focus of a major terrorist alert"

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