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Terror scare still looms over UK

Passengers at Britain’s airports face travel chaos due to tightened security measures after a burning car crashed into Scotland’s busiest air hub.

world Updated: Jul 02, 2007 04:41 IST
Vijay Dutt
Vijay Dutt
Hindustan Times
Hindustantimes

British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith declined to comment Sunday on a report that police had arrested the drivers of two cars packed with explosives and abandoned in London on Friday.

Briefing reporters after the latest meeting of the government’s COBRA crisis cell, Smith said she will make a statement on the terrorism alert situation to the House of Commons on Monday.

Sky News earlier reported that two people arrested overnight on a motorway in northwest England were the drivers of the Mercedes cars abandoned in central London early on Friday. The television channel did not identify its sources.

“I’m not confirming operational details,” said Smith, adding that it was up to police to release details of their activities as they see fit.

She, meanwhile, reiterated that Britain will not yield to the terrorist threat, saying: “We won’t, as the British people, be intimidated or let anyone stop us getting on with our lives.”

Meanwhile, passengers at Britain’s airports faced travel chaos on Sunday, sparked by tightened security measures after a burning car crashed into Scotland’s busiest air hub.

Glasgow airport was partially reopened, an airport spokesman said, less than 24 hours after the attack on Saturday, which came hot on the heels of two failed London car bombings on Friday.

But television pictures showed huge queues of travellers snaking outside terminals at the airport.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said it was necessary for air travellers to face ramped-up security, after his government raised the national terror alert to “critical” — meaning that another attack could be imminent.

The United States has also heightened security at airports, train and mass transit stations, but US officials did not raise the alert level nationwide.

“At this point, when we have had an attempted attack at an airport, the security measures have to be increased — whether it’s checks as people go into the airports, or whether it’s more police patrols, or whether it may be barriers that people have got to come through — these will be what people must be expected to have,” Brown told BBC television on Sunday.

He added: “It is important ... that we do the checks that are necessary to ensure that passengers feel and are reassured that all measures are taken to ensure their safety at what is essentially one of the great crowded places — airports — in our country.”

BAA, which runs the Glasgow hub, has brought in new measures at its six other airports, comprising London Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, plus Southampton, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

The airports operator said it was staging a “phased re-opening” of Glasgow airport, adding however that a “large number” of flights had been cancelled.

(With input from agencies)