14 terror suspects arrested in London

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The Independent Online

Police have arrested 14 men following anti-terror raids in south and east London.

The men were arrested late last night and in the early hours of today on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

Searches are being carried out at homes in south, east and north London, Scotland Yard said.

The suspects are in custody at a central London police station.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Officers from the Metropolitan Police's Anti-Terrorist Branch have arrested 14 men under the Terrorism Act 2000 in a pre-planned, intelligence-led operation.

"The arrests in south and east London follow many months of surveillance and investigation in a joint operation involving the Anti-Terrorist Branch, Special Branch and the Security Service."

The spokesman added that the arrests were not linked to the recent alleged plot to blow up transatlantic airliners or the July 7 bombings in London.

The BBC reported that one of the raids took place at a restaurant in Borough Road, south London, close to South Bank University.

Up to 40 officers in riot gear entered the premises which was packed with diners shortly after 10pm last night, the report said.

A number of arrests were made at the restaurant which was part of the Bridge Hotel, the BBC added.

A spokeswoman for Home Secretary John Reid said he had been "kept fully informed of the developments about the counter-terror operation".

The halal Chinese restaurant is said to be popular with the local Muslim community.

The owner, Madi Blyani, told a reporter from BBC Radio 4's Today programme he had been surprised by the arrival of a large number of police officers.

"It was surprising actually, because plenty of them suddenly came in all together. There were more than 50 or 60 of them," he said.

"They suddenly came inside because they were suspicious of some of the customers, and they talked to them.

"They talked to them (for) more than one hour, two hours. And they arrested some of them.

"So it was obviously surprising for me, my staff, for everyone anyway."

Meanwhile, two men were arrested today in anti-terror raids in Manchester, police said.

Greater Manchester Police made the arrests in raids on three houses in Cheetham Hill, Manchester at 6am.

There are no links to the raids in London and the south east of England, a GMP spokesman said.

The arrests are linked to raids that took place on August 23 when one man was held and a house on Elmfield Street, Cheetham Hill, was searched.

He is still being held by police under anti-terrorism legislation.

A spokesman for GMP said: "Greater Manchester Police's Anti-Terrorist Unit has today Saturday 2 September, 2006 executed three search warrants under the Terrorism Act 2000.

"Two men have been arrested and searches are now taking place at three addresses in the Cheetham Hill area of Manchester.

"Officers made the arrests at 6am this morning.

"The arrests are linked to the operation that took place on 23 August. It is in connection with an ongoing investigation and has been carried out acting on intelligence."