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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 June 2006, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Police chief defends terror raid
Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair
The head of the Metropolitan Police has defended the anti-terrorist raid on a house in east London on Friday.

Muslim groups have said the action has inflamed fears in their community.

But in an interview for BBC News Sir Ian Blair said the police had taken action on behalf of all communities in the fight against terror.

"This is not a police force on behalf of one community against another," he said. "We're all in the danger of terrorism together."

Sir Ian said he was eager to let people know the police were working on behalf all the nation's communities.

"The preoccupations of the last few days have been around Forest Gate - and terror.

"And one of the things that I'm so anxious to get over to different communities is that we are responding to the threat of terror on behalf of all communities."

'Time of reflection'

Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman said he regretted the disruption caused to the community in east London but that police had to act on intelligence received.

Mr Hayman said they would continue "to try and bottom it out" and indicated police would meet the local community to reflect on their tactics.

However, the head of Specialist Operations insisted the raid in Lansdown Road, which involved close to 250 officers and led to a suspect being shot in the shoulder, was "necessary and proportionate".

Police have yet to find what specific intelligence suggested they would in the house - reportedly a chemical-based explosive device.

But Mr Hayman said the investigation was continuing and if police did not find it there, the search could go on elsewhere to prove or disprove the intelligence.

The assistant commissioner said there had been "a time of reflection" since the raid.

"I am aware that in mounting this operation we have caused disruption and inconvenience to many residents in Newham and for that I apologise," he said.

Mr Hayman said he understood that some communities "may be feeling confused or indeed, angry".

But he insisted anti-terror operations were not targeted against any particular community or section of a community.

"We are working tirelessly to target criminals who are intent on spreading fear and terror amongst us all."

Community concerns

Mr Hayman said police had to act on the intelligence as it appeared to suggest "a threat to public safety".

"We had no choice but to take the action that we did in trying to prove or disprove the intelligence," he said.

"We must all pull together. This is not the time for conflict and anger"
Andy Hayman, Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner

"To do otherwise we would have been failing in our duty to make London safer and protect all Londoners."

He said the decision had not been taken lightly.

However, Mr Hayman appeared to suggest that community concerns would be taken into account in the planning of future operations.

"The concern that has been expressed to me has been the visual impact of the operation as it was played out last week."

'Balancing act'

Officers involved in the raid were wearing chemical protection suits.

Mr Hayman said: "That has led us to reflect as to whether or not we can do it differently.

"But having said that, there was a difficult balancing act between officers' safety and public safety and those we would come into contact with in the house.

"It would be difficult to see how we could reduce the level of officer attendance and equipment.

Policemen on duty in Forest Gate
The police had a heavy presence in Forest Gate for the raid

"What we are planning in the next couple of weeks is joint meetings with the community to share with them our planning options and considerations and to ask them to tell us whether they see anything differently."

With regard to Friday's planned demonstration outside Forest Gate police station, Mr Hayman said: "We must all pull together. This is not the time for conflict and anger."

Detectives have been given more time to question the two men arrested in the east London raid.

Since the raid, brothers Mohammed Abdulkahar, 23, and Abul Koyair, 20, have been held at Paddington Green police station over an alleged terror plot.

They can now be detained until Saturday afternoon.


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