UK police arrest 7 in counter-terrorism raids

Suspects arrested at homes in Birmingham, accused of preparing attack; police say no connection to annual conference of Liberal Democrats.

British police 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Luke MacGregor )
British police 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Luke MacGregor )
LONDON - British police said on Monday they had arrested seven people in a counter-terrorism operation in Birmingham but said the arrests had no connection to a conference of the Liberal Democrat party underway in the central English city.
Six men, aged between 25 and 32, were arrested overnight on suspicion of preparing an act of terrorism and a 22-year-old woman was held on suspicion of failing to disclose information that could help prevent an act of terrorism, a police statement said.
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The Liberal Democrats, junior partner in Britain's coalition government, are holding their annual conference in the city this week, but the police said there was no link.
Unarmed police officers arrested the men at or near their homes in what the police said was a "large, pre-planned, intelligence-led counter-terrorism operation".
The suspects are being held for questioning at a police station in the West Midlands area.
Specialist police teams are searching a number of properties in the Birmingham area, the police said.
Police Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said he could give no details about what the men were suspected of. "However, I believe it was necessary to take action at this time in order to ensure public safety," he said in a statement.
Britain lowered its international terrorism threat level from severe to substantial -- the third highest level -- in July, a year before London hosts the Olympics.