BBC : More time for anti-terror police

Friday, April 17, 2009

More time for anti-terror police

April 17, 2009

Police have been granted extra time to question four men arrested as part of a counter-terrorism operation in north-west England last week.

The four, aged 23, 26, 26 and 41, can now be questioned for five more days.

They are among 12 men arrested during the raids in Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire on 8 April.

On Wednesday officers were also given a further seven days to question seven other men. An 18-year-old has been handed over to the UK Border Agency.

The raid searched 14 properties across the north-west of England in connection with an alleged planned bomb attack.

Secret document

Police found pictures of popular Manchester shopping centres and a nightclub during searches, the BBC learned.

Eleven of the men arrested are Pakistani, ten of whom were in the UK on student visas.

The raid was brought forward after the UK's most senior counter-terrorism police officer - who has since resigned - sparked a security alert by revealing a secret document to photographers when he arrived for a briefing at No 10 Downing Street.

The revelations regarding the nationality of the suspects have stoked concerns that the authorities have lost the ability to control the UK's border security.

Home Office figures for between April 2004 and April 2008 - the last year for which figures are available - show that about 42,000 Pakistani nationals entered the UK on student visas.

Ministers have rejected claims that border controls are too lax.