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Five more Indian docs questioned in Australia

Following the interrogation by the Australia Federal Police, four of the doctors have been allowed to go free.

world Updated: Jul 06, 2007 16:39 IST

The Australia Federal Police (AFP) investigating terrorism links with the foiled UK bomb plot have questioned five more Indian doctors - four in Western Australia and one in Sydney. Four of the doctors were later allowed to go free.

Western Australia Deputy Commissioner of Police (Specialist Services) Murray Lampard said the four men questioned in the state were Indian doctors who had come on temporary migrant worker visas.

The AFP has carried out searches at Royal Perth Hospital and Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital. Mobile phones and laptop computers containing about 31,000 separate documents have been seized for further examination.

West Australian Premier Alan Carpenter has confirmed that police have searched the home and workplace of a 29-year-old Indian doctor, who arrived in Western Australia from the UK in April. He said no charges have been laid in Western Australia and "nothing sinister has been found, no suggestion of wrongdoing so far".

The other three men were simply caught up in the inquiry by association. The information from interviewing them and what has been found at their residence is said to be not of serious concern.

According to Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty said officers were questioning other doctors to try to establish any connection with the attempted attacks in Glasgow and London.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that two of the doctors arrested in the UK over the foiled bomb attack, Khalid and Sabeel Ahmed, had applied for work in Queensland as well as Western Australia.

Keelty said four of the Indian migrant doctors had worked in the British health system. They were not considered suspects and had not been charged, he added. The four doctors were allowed to go free after they had spoken to the police.

Federal Attorney General, Phillip Ruddock told Sydney Morning Herald: "This is not about doctors. A precise (description) is that they are people who are of the same nationality here in Australia."

He said there was still no information to suggest an increased threat of a terrorist attack in Australia.

The AFP and a British counter-terrorism expert are continuing to question Mohammad Haneef, the Gold Coast doctor arrested earlier this week at Brisbane airport.

Indian High Commissioner to Australia Prabhat Shukla said: "We have had consular contact with Dr Haneef, and are continuing to keep in touch with him. We are also in touch with his family in India. At the same time, we have been victims of terrorism ourselves, and therefore take our counter-terrorism commitment equally seriously. Our prime minister has reiterated this position yesterday."

Authorities are calling for calm and tolerance towards people of all ethnic backgrounds in the community. Australian Medical Association President Rosanna Capolingua earlier told the media: "Overseas trained doctors have been an essential part of our workforce for many years. They have provided Australians with good service and we need them."

She said the Australian public shouldn't become disillusioned and frightened and lose trust in their doctors just because they are overseas trained.