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Sunday, 26 January, 2003, 09:20 GMT
UK looks for Europe terror links
Spanish police arrest a suspect al-Qaeda militant
The Spanish arrests follow those in Italy
British security chiefs are looking at what a wave of arrests in Spain and Italy means for the fight against terrorism in the UK, Home Secretary David Blunkett has said.

Police in Spain have arrested 16 people in a major operation against suspected al-Qaeda militants in the north-eastern Catalonia region.

The raids come two days after Italian police arrested five Moroccans for illegal possession of explosives.

We'll learn from it very quickly and obviously, we will take whatever steps are necessary to protect ourselves in the UK

David Blunkett
Home Secretary
Mr Blunkett said the UK would be looking to learn from the arrests.

He told Sky News: "We are at the moment involved in investigating with both Italian and Spanish security services just what they found, the implications for the network across Europe and that threat to the UK.

Learn

"We have said all along that there was an international network, we have said that the security services nee to work closely together to combat this.

"I am very pleased that in the catches in Italy and Spain that they have been able to get the arrests.

"We'll learn from it very quickly and obviously, we will take whatever steps are necessary to protect ourselves in the UK."

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said Friday's arrests were extraordinarily important.

Explosives and chemical materials that could be used in a terrorist attack were seized in the raids, said Mr Aznar.

The raids took place after a lengthy investigation assisted by the British and French authorities.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Claire Marshall
"A big operation is being conducted by the Spanish police"
The BBC's Frank Gardner
"This raid was a very serious operation"

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See also:

24 Jan 03 | Europe
24 Jan 03 | Europe
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