Heathrow arrests 'not connected' to London attacks

The arrest of three people at Heathrow airport today are not thought to be connected to the attacks on London, say police

Three people have been arrested at Heathrow airport under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, police overseeing the hunt for the bombers behind Thursday's attacks on London revealed today.

The deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police, Brian Paddick, told a press conference in London that the three were still in custody, but stressed they were "relatively routine" arrests that are not thought to be connected with the terrorist attacks on the capital.

"Three people have been arrested under the prevention of terrorism at Heathrow airport this morning. Those people are still being detained. I'm being told it's inappropriate and pure speculation to draw any direct linkage with the attack on London and I can't give any more information," he said.

Deputy chief constable Andy Trotter, of the British Transport police, sought to dampen speculation that the arrests were in connection with the four bombs that exploded in London, killing at least 49 people. "People are arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act very, very frequently," he said.

The anti-terrorist phone line set up in the wake of the attacks had so far received 1,700 calls, added Mr Paddick.

Police also revealed there had been an increase in the normal levels of racially motivated crimes against Muslims in the capital since Thursday. The attacks were racially or religiously motivated, and police were taking them seriously, Mr Paddick said. One attack resulted to serous injuries. Other cases involved slogans being daubed on mosques.

Earlier today, faith leaders from all the major religions in the UK joined together to condemn the people behind the four bomb attacks.

Police confirmed they had retrieved 49 bodies from the wreckage of the three tube trains and the bus, but said they may find more as they excavate the deepest tunnels below Russell Square, where hot and cramped conditions are hampering further investigations. Mr Paddick described how 59 family liaison officers from police forces around the country are now working with people who fear their loved ones are among the dead.

And he made two appeals: For London to adopt a "business as usual" approach tomorrow and to go back to work, and for anyone who had taken photos or videos, with traditional equipment or mobile phones, in the areas around any of the explosions to hand them over to investigators.

Police would be maintaining a high presence in the capital in a bid to reassure the public, Mr Paddick added.

For more on the appeal for images, click here. Or email images@met.police.uk.


Polly Curtis and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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