Police look for chemical bomb after terror suspect is shot in dawn raid

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The Independent Online

A 23-year-old man is recovering after being shot in a massive police raid to thwart a suspected chemical attack in Britain.

In the biggest anti-terror operation mounted in the capital this year, 250 officers, some wearing protective bio-chemical suits, swooped on a family home in Forest Gate, east London, yesterday.

The man, Abdul Kahar, was shot in the shoulder during the early morning raid and taken to a nearby hospital where he was put under armed guard. He was later arrested on terrorism charges. The shooting was immediately referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which will shortly report on the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian man mistaken by armed police for a suicide bomber.

A second suspect, Abdul Koyar, 20, was also arrested under the Terrorism Act after the raid. The two men are brothers who live with their parents.

Forensic experts will spend several days examining the terraced house looking for evidence of chemicals that could be used in a poison gas attack. Suggestions it was being used as a bomb-making factory were swiftly discounted, and there was no early sign last night of incriminating material being discovered.

The decision to raid the property was taken after an MI5 surveillance operation, lasting several months, which security sources said was aimed at thwarting a terrorist attack in Britain, but was not related to the bombings on 7 July last year.

Police moved in under the cover of darkness to avoid the risk of any bomb being detonated, smashing their way into the house in Lansdown Road at 4am through a downstairs window. Mr Kahar is understood to have been on the stairs when he was shot. His mother collapsed and was carried out on a stretcher to an ambulance.

Three roads around the scene were immediately sealed off by police, although no neighbours were evacuated, and an air exclusion zone was imposed over east London.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of the Metropolitan Police anti-terrorist branch, said: "Because of the very specific nature of the intelligence, we planned an operation that was designed to mitigate any threat to the public either from firearms or from hazardous substances."

John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, left a meeting of the British-Irish Council in London early, returning to Downing Street to be briefed by John Reid, the Home Secretary.

Mr Kahar, whose injuries were not life-threatening, was treated at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. Mr Koyar is being questioned at the high-security Paddington Green police station.

Shortly after Mr Kahar's admission, a small group of Asian men gathered outside the hospital to protest at what they claimed was excessive force. One said: "He was not armed. He's not a terrorist. He is an innocent man and he didn't deserve to get shot."

* Greater Manchester Police said a series of raids nationwide on 24 May had disrupted a "known terrorist group" linked to the Iraqi insurgency.

Guidelines for the use of firearms

* THREAT TO LIFE

Armed police officers can open fire "to stop an imminent threat to life", but are allowed to use their firearms only if all other options have failed. Officers are then expected to identify themselves, issue a warning and shoot to disable their suspect.

* WHERE TO AIM

Guidelines issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers advise that shots should be aimed at the central body mass. The rules stipulate: " The imminence of any threat should be judged, in respect to the potential for loss of life, with due regard to legislation and consideration of necessity, reasonableness and proportionality."

* TAKING THE BLAME

The rules lay great stress on the "individual responsibility" officers carrying firearms have to exercise and adds that he or she is " answerable ultimately to the law in the courts".

* SUSPECTED SUICIDE BOMBERS

Different rules apply under the controversial Operation Kratos, designed to combat suspected suicide bombers. They allow officers to use lethal force without shouting a warning and to shoot at the head if they suspect a body-shot could detonate a bomb.