Page last updated at 21:02 GMT, Monday, 16 February 2009

Gaza vehicles released by police

The scene in Rectory Road, Burnley
Searches are continuing at houses in Burnley

Three vehicles seized as they travelled to join a Gaza aid convoy have been released by counter-terrorism officers.

The two vans and an ambulance were travelling to London to join the convoy when they were stopped on the M65 near Preston, Lancashire, on Friday.

Nine men were arrested as part of an ongoing intelligence-led investigation. Three men remain in custody.

Police said the parcels had been "thoroughly checked" and could "continue on to their destination".

A Lancashire Police spokesman said: "The cargo from these vehicles has been thoroughly checked by search officers who have worked as quickly as they can to ensure that the parcels can now be released and continue on to their destination.

"We appreciate that this has been a cause of concern for some people which is why we have seen it as our number one priority to release them.

'Express beliefs'

"Both Lancashire Constabulary and the North West Counter Terrorism Unit believe strongly that people should be allowed to express and pursue their views and beliefs openly, providing this is done safely and within the law.

"The arrests made on Friday evening were in no way aimed at preventing this and were the culmination of an ongoing intelligence-led investigation."

Police have been granted an extension to question the men, aged 26, 29 and 36, until Thursday.

A number of homes in Burnley continue to be searched as part of the operation.

The convoy carrying medicine, clothing and shoeboxes of toys set off from the capital on Saturday accompanied by Respect party MP George Galloway.

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