Brits Suspect Terrorist Plot Against Pope

By: AP
By: AP
British police detain 6 men suspected in a terrorist plot against Pope Benedict XVI while he

FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2006 file picture Pope Benedict XVI, right, walks with his brother priest Georg Ratzinger in Regensburg, southern Germany. The pope's brother says in a newspaper interview that he slapped pupils across the face after he took over a renowned German boys' choir in the 1960s. He also says he was aware of allegations of physical abuse at an elementary school linked to the choir, but did nothing about it. In an interview with the Passauer Neue Presse published Tuesday March 9, 2010 , he said "repeatedly administered a slap in the face" to pupils at the Regensburger Domspatzen boys choir. He says it was common then and he stopped after Germany banned corporal punishment in 1980. (AP Photo/Diether Endlicher,File)

LONDON (AP) -- British police staged a pre-dawn raid at a London garbage depot Friday, arresting five street cleaners in a suspected terrorist plot against Pope Benedict XVI on the second day of his state visit to Britain. A sixth person was arrested later in the day.
The Vatican said the pope was calm despite the arrests and planned no changes to his schedule. But the arrests overshadowed a major address by Benedict to British politicians, businessmen and cultural leaders about the need to restore faith and ethics to public policy making.
Acting on a tip, police detained the men, aged 26 to 50, under the Terrorism Act at a cleaning depot in central London after receiving information about a possible threat. The men were being questioned at a London police station and have not been charged. Police said an initial search of that business and other properties did not uncover any hazardous items.
Police said the five were arrested "on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism." Police said a sixth man -- a 29-year-old -- was arrested later in the day at his home but no other details were immediately available.
The pope's visit has divided opinion in officially Protestant, highly secular Britain. The trip has been overshadowed by disgust over the Catholic Church's clerical abuse scandal and opposition from secularists and those opposed to the pope's stances against homosexuality and using condoms to fight the virus that leads to AIDS.
The detained suspects worked for a contractor on behalf of Westminster Council, the authority responsible for much of central London. Benedict spent much of the afternoon in Westminster Hall and Westminster Abbey; the depot were the men were arrested is responsible for cleaning another part of London that the pope is not due to visit, however, police said.
Police confirmed that some of the suspects were thought to be from outside Britain but declined to comment on media reports they were of Algerian origin.
One street sweeper at the depot, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said at least one of those arrested was Algerian, and that he believed all five arrested in the morning were from North Africa.
Veolia Environmental Services, the cleaners' company, had no immediate comment on the arrests.
At the scene of the arrests in Chiltern Street, close to London's Madame Tussauds' tourist attraction, police cordoned off part of the road, removing items from the Veolia depot and examining nearby garbage cans.
The pope's security on this trip has been visibly higher than on previous foreign trips, and Vatican officials have acknowledged that Britain represents a higher security threat than the other European countries Benedict has visited this year, including Portugal, Malta and Cyprus.


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