British police step up training for Mumbai-style attack

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British security forces are increasing training for an attack similar to the Mumbai bloodshed two years ago, following reports that a similar plot was foiled in Europe last month, the BBC said on Tuesday.

Police marksmen and special forces units are undergoing exercises while police armed response units are being given more powerful weapons to combat any attackers with automatic weapons, the BBC said, without identifying sources.

While there is no indication such an attack is imminent, the BBC's story comes after reports last month that an Al-Qaeda plot to launch attacks in Britain, France and Germany by seizing hostages in a manner similar to Mumbai had been foiled.

The attacks in November 2008 left 166 people dead in the Indian city.

The BBC reported that a unit from the SAS (Special Air Service) would be stationed in London during the 2012 Olympic Games.

Britain's official terror threat level currently stands at severe, the second highest, meaning an attack is highly likely.

The Home Office played down the report, saying in a statement: "The police regularly train and exercise for a variety of scenarios with a variety of partners.

"The police have established procedures in place to deal with a terrorist incident which are constantly updated.

"It is right that we learn the lessons from previous incidents."

Home Secretary Theresa May is in Pakistan discussing issues including counter-terrorism.

Britain has previously said that three-quarters of terrorist plots it investigates have links to Pakistan and May said continued cooperation between the two countries was essential.

"The whole point of discussions that we have been having is the recognising that there is mutual benefit in working together in the fight against terror," she told a news conference in Islamabad on Tuesday.

"This is the threat that both our countries face.

"Pakistan has made enormous sacrifices as a result of terrorism in Pakistan and we are very conscious of that. So this is something we need to fight for both our countries' sake."

Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik added that there was "total cooperation" between intelligence agencies over such threats.

"The world has become a global village," Malik said.

"Terrorists sitting in Karachi will be sitting in UK tomorrow and the next morning, he will be in New York. International intelligence agencies are now working in total cooperation to avert any such incident if it is reported."

© 2010 AFP

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