Police arrest five men near British nuclear plant

3rd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

British police arrested five men under anti-terrorism legislation close to a nuclear plant, but said Tuesday the case appeared to be unconnected to the death of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

Officers stopped the men in a vehicle near the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria, northwest England, at around 4:30 pm (1530 GMT) on Monday.

They are all of Bangladeshi origin but live in London, a police source told AFP.

"Police officers from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary conducted a stop check on a vehicle close to the Sellafield site in West Cumbria," said the statement from Cumbria Police.

"As a result, police officers from Cumbria Constabulary arrested five men from London, all aged in their 20s, under section 41 of the Terrorism Act."

Section 41 gives an officer the right to arrest without a warrant anyone "whom he reasonably suspects to be a terrorist."

A police source said the men appeared to be "acting suspiciously near the perimeter of Sellafield" but refused to disclose further details.

Britain is on high alert because of fears of possible Al-Qaeda revenge attacks after US special forces killed bin Laden in a raid in Pakistan overnight Sunday.

But a police spokeswoman played down suggestions of a link between the arrests and the Al-Qaeda kingpin's death: "At this stage we are not aware of any connection to recent events in Pakistan."

The men will be moved to Manchester, northwest England, where a police counter-terrorism unit will take over the investigation.

Sellafield is the biggest nuclear site in Europe and most of the plutonium in Britain is stored at the plant.

The site opened in 1947 and Calder Hall, the first nuclear power station to produce electricity in commercial quantities, opened there in 1956.

Calder Hall closed in 2003 and work at Sellafield now focuses on dismantling old nuclear reactors and reprocessing spent nuclear fuel.

© 2011 AFP

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