'Police increase presence in London transportation hubs'

BBC reports UK warning against Qaida aviation plot; Threat level for transportation raised, letter sent to aviation officials.

January 7, 2011 17:14
2 minute read.
British police at King's Cross train station

British police at airport "watching you" 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)


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LONDON – Police fanned out across transport hubs in London on Friday amid continuing fears of a terrorist attack.

Britain's media said the security threat levels for transport hubs has been raised as governments in several European countries warn of a heightened risk of terrorism.

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A BBC report said that the news network had seen a letter to aviation industry officials warning that al-Qaida "may be considering an attack."

The letter, from the British Department of Transportation, explained that threats are "credible." It added that the "economic, political and psychological significance of the UK aviation sector, coupled with the large crowds present within some of its major assets, would enable a successful attack to fulfill al-Qaeda's objectives."

Police were on patrol at major hubs like St. Pancras and King's Cross train stations in what seemed to be an exercise in high visibility policing aimed at reassuring the public.

British Transport Police declined to comment on the deployment of officers, but denied a Sky News report that officers had been ordered to cancel days off.

Britain's government said the overall threat level from international terrorism remains at "severe" — the second-highest level, meaning an attack is highly likely. The level has not changed since January 2010.

Britain's Home Office said that any imminent, serious threat to public safety would prompt a change in the overall threat level — and would see it raised to "critical," the highest point on the system's five point scale.

Minor day-to-day revisions of policing are standard practice to handle a threat from terrorism that UK Prime Minister David Cameron said in December "is as serious today as it ever has been."

"There is a continuing need for everyone to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to the police," the Home Office said in a statement.

BAA, which runs Heathrow and five other terminals, said security at its airports remained at a high level and that the company is vigilant at all times.

The Daily Telegraph reported on its website that train stations across London were put on high alert. Quoting an unnamed security source, it said there was no imminent threat but activity from extremist cells had led to an adjustment in policing levels.

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