Police given extra time to quiz terror suspects

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Detectives have been granted extra time to question three men arrested as part of a counter-terrorism operation, police said today.

Nine men were stopped by police on Friday night on the M65 in Lancashire and arrested as part of an ongoing intelligence-led investigation.

Six of the men were later released without charge, while three men, aged 26, 29 and 36, remain in custody.

Specialist officers were searching five homes in Burnley as part of the operation, which is being led by Lancashire Constabulary and the North West Counter Terrorism unit and is not thought to involve an imminent domestic threat.

Three vehicles which were also seized had been making their way to London to join a Gaza aid convoy.

Lancashire Constabulary's spokeswoman said: "Searches are ongoing at five houses in Burnley and three vehicles seized as part of the operation are also being searched as a priority in order to release them as soon as possible so they can continue on to their destination."

The homes searched by police are in the constituency of Wajid Khan, Labour councillor for Daneshouse with Stoneyholme.

Cllr Khan said: "I'm aware of one or two individuals involved of the nine who were arrested on Friday. I'm aware of their work, they are well respected and they have been working in the community for a number of years.

"They're seen in a positive light in their community."

Cllr Khan said local people were "shocked" by the arrests and house searches.

"We're very close knit and we all know each other. It's shocking for any community to have to deal with. It's important that people remain strong and co-operate.

"The police are doing their operation and we have to be patient. It's a difficult time for us."

He continued: "I think the biggest frustration within the community is that a lot of money's been raised for Gaza, you're trying to help people in a humanitarian crisis.

"Some people might be thinking, 'is all this because this aid is going to Gaza or is it police conducting a counter-terrorism operation?"'

"If this was because the aid was going to Gaza then it would be a very devastating consequence for community spirit."

"If you're asking whether it's for Gaza or counter-terrorism, I'm not in a position to answer. Once the investigation has been conducted we look forward to receiving the information from the police," Cllr Khan added.

Residents in the areas where the searches took place received a note through their letterboxes from Lancashire Constabulary informing them about the operation.

The letter assured people that the searches would be conducted "with sensitivity" and asked for support during the investigation.