LONDON (Reuters) – British police arrested 10 people suspected of terrorism in raids in the northern English city of Manchester Monday.
A police spokeswoman could not confirm reports that those arrested were linked to Islamic groups who may have been targeting a shopping center in the city.
“Ten people in total have been arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism,” a police statement said.
“We appreciate the public interest in this but are unable to provide more details at this stage.”
Local media said the arrests were made during a raid on a property above a kebab restaurant near the city center.
The Manchester raids came just three weeks after police arrested eight men in London and southeastern England and seized a cache of explosives on March 30 in Britain’s biggest anti-terror operation since the September 11 attacks of 2001.
Britain, Washington’s closest ally in the “war on terror” and in toppling Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, has long feared it could be a prime target for Islamic extremists.
With Europe already on a high state of alert after the Madrid train bombings in March, London’s police chief has repeatedly said he believes an attack is inevitable.
A radical Muslim cleric said in a weekend interview with a Portuguese magazine that several Islamic militant groups in London were preparing attacks in Britain.
“It’s inevitable. Because several (attacks) are being prepared by several groups,” Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad told Lisbon’s Publica magazine from London, where he is based.
One “very well organized” group in London calling itself al Qaeda Europe “has a great appeal for young Muslims,” he said. “I know that they are ready to launch a big operation.”