Five Palestinians arrested over London bombings

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Five Palestinians were arrested in London yesterday by police investigating a bombing campaign against Israeli targets in the capital.

Three men and two women were held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act after early morning raids at five addresses in north and west London. All five have been living in England for several years.

The arrests followed an intensive investigation by Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorist Branch into two blasts last July in which 20 people were injured.

In the first attack, a car bomb devastated the Israeli Embassy in Kensington, west London, injuring 14 people.

It later emerged that a woman of Middle-Eastern appearance had parked a stolen car packed with 30lb of high explosives in front of the building. When challenged by police guarding the embassy, she said she was visiting friends. As officers began to run acheck on the car, the device exploded.

Police refused to comment on whether one of the women arrested yesterday, who is in her fifties and described as a "housewife", was the suspected bomber.

a few hours after the embassy blast, a second car bomb exploded outside Balfour House in Finchley, north London, the site of a charity, the Joint Israeli Appeal, injuring six people.

It is understood that no weapons or bomb-making equipment were recovered during yesterday's arrests, although the investigation is still going on. Police are understood to have been working in co-operation with inquiries in the United States, Israel and Argentina.

The five people arrested were born in Jordan and Lebanon, although one has a dual British passport. Of the three men, who were described as businessmen, two are in their twenties and one in his forties. The second woman is 29. None has diplomatic status.

Last night they were being questioned at undisclosed police stations. Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act they can be held in custody for up to seven days without being charged.

Last November, security measures in Britain were tightened at synagogues, Jewish schools and community centres after a warning from Scotland Yard that they still faced a long-term threat of a Middle Eastern terror campaign.