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Missiles on London rooftops for Olympics?

The United Kingdom army is considering plans to station soldiers and high-velocity surface-to-air missiles on top of a block of residential flats to ward off any airborne terror threats during the Olympics.

india Updated: Apr 30, 2012 00:00 IST

The United Kingdom army is considering plans to station soldiers and high-velocity surface-to-air missiles on top of a block of residential flats to ward off any airborne terror threats during the Olympics.

Residents in the private, gated flats in Bow, east London, have received a leaflet warning them that a team of 10 soldiers and police will be stationed at the building - home to 700 people - for the duration of the Games.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed ground-based air defence systems could be deployed as part of the Olympic security plan but says it is still evaluating the situation.

Brian Whelan, a resident of the building, said the MoD leaflet said the missiles would only be fired as a last resort.

He said: "They are going to have a test run next week, putting high-velocity missiles on the roof just above our apartment, and on the back of it they are stationing police and military in the tower of the building for two months.

"It's a private, gated community with an old watch tower which is now a lift shaft. We have a MoD leaflet saying the building is the only suitable place in the area. It says there will be 10 officers plus police present 24/7. I'm not sure if they are going to live in the building.

He said the property management company had put up posters and given out the leaflets on Saturday.

"The general tone of it all was: 'Great news, aren't we lucky,' but that's not normal. It's not something people should have put on them.

"I've looked these (the missiles) up and I don't think they're the kind of thing you can fire over a highly populated area like Tower Hamlets. Think of the debris … It's totally unsuitable."

Whelan said the leaflet posed a series of questions residents might ask, such as: "Will this make me a target for terrorists?"

The 28-year-old said: "But the answer on it is that we will be safer with it here.

"From the few people I've spoken to, and the security we have here, they're not happy about it. I don't think it needs to be here at all. I don't see how the decision was made or who made it. It was unclear who was responsible for liaising with the residents, but it is understood the MoD and the Metropolitan police were working together with community groups over the issue. It was also unclear if the building's owners would be paid to have the missiles stationed on the roof.