LONDON -- A routine check of an uninsured car led to the arrest of seven terrorism suspects in Birmingham and the West Yorkshire area of Britain, police said Friday.
A statement from West Midlands Police in Birmingham, an industrial city 120 miles northwest of London, said three arrests were made Tuesday, three on Wednesday and a seventh Thursday night. Six of the suspects, all in their 20s, are from Birmingham; the seventh, a 43-year-old, is from Kirklees in West Yorkshire in northern England, police said.
"The arrests followed a routine stop of a vehicle by police on the M1 motorway in South Yorkshire on Saturday (June 30th)" the statement said. "The car was impounded on suspicion of having no insurance. Firearms, offensive weapons and other material were later found hidden inside, prompting police to take action to trace and arrest the driver, passenger and others suspected of being involved."
The announcement came a day after five men and a woman were taken into custody in London on suspicion of plotting terror strikes, but police say the two incidents are unrelated.
British security services are on high alert in the run-up to the Olympic Games, which open in London on July 27.
On Thursday, a major highway near Birmingham was closed to morning rush hour traffic, causing chaos as a massive response to an emergency call from a bus driver brought out armed police, ambulance crews and military explosive experts to investigate smoke coming from one of the bus passengers.
The incident turned out to have been sparked by the passenger's use of an electronic cigarette, but it brought to the surface security forces' general state of alertness.
-- Janet Stobart