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Searches continue, flights returning to normal

Searches continued in over 20 properties on Thursday even as flights gradually returned to normal.

india Updated: Aug 18, 2006 00:41 IST

British police, who have been given more time to grill 23 suspects in an alleged terrorist plot to blow up US-bound passenger airliners, on Thursday continued searches in over 20 properties even as flights gradually returned to normal a week after the scheme was foiled.

Officials in Pakistan said Rashid Rauf, one of the Britons arrested in Pakistan and considered a 'key planner' of the plot, was believed to have links to Al-Qaeda.

Pakistani intelligence sources told media that they had reasons to believe Al-Qaeda had sanctioned the plot and that it was probably cleared by the terror network's second in command Ayman al-Zawahiri.

British anti-terror officers searching King's Wood, a woodland in High Wycombe near some suspects' addresses, are said to have discovered 'items of interest'. It is thought they were looking for explosive detonators about the size of cigarettes, a private news channel reported.

The searches came a day after a judge granted Scotland Yard anti-terror officers an extra seven days to question 21 suspects, and an extra five days to question the other two.

Though 19 of its flights from Heathrow were cancelled on Thursday, British Airways said it has no plans for cancellation of any long-haul flights and hoped to return by the end of the day some 5,000 pieces of luggage misplaced in the confusion at the airport.

Meanwhile, a woman detained on Wednesday after sparking an alert on a flight from Heathrow to Washington DC was reported to be suffering from claustrophobia. The jet carrying 182 passengers and a crew of 12 was diverted to Boston, escorted by two F15 fighter jets.