Five arrests as police close on bombers

Five people have been arrested across the UK as police respond to yesterday’s attack upon Glasgow airport and two failed car bombs in central London.

The terror attacks, which police quickly confirmed were believed to be connected, led to the government raising the threat level in the UK to critical, which suggests that another attack is imminent.

On Saturday a flaming four-by-four vehicle was driven at full-speed into the main entrance at Glasgow airport’s Terminal One.

Two men, described as Asian by witnesses, were arrested at the scene at 15:15 BST, while two others, a 26-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman, were later detained by anti-terror police on the M6 in Cheshire.

A statement from the Metropolitan police, where the UK’s anti-terror operations are based, later confirmed that Merseyside police had arrested a 26-year-old man in connection with both attacks.

Two properties are being searched in the Liverpool area, the Met added, while Staffordshire police later revealed that anti-terror officers were conducting significant enquiries in Newcastle-under-Lyme connected to events in London and Glasgow.

In other developments, police have said a controlled explosion has been carried out on a car in Royal Alexandra Hospital in Glasgow, where one of the two men arrested in connection with yesterday’s attack is being treated for serious burns.

New home secretary Jacqui Smith is due to address the House of Commons tomorrow on the threat facing the country.

In a statement delivered to news crews after the latest Cobra security committee meeting, the fourth held in three days, Ms Smith said she had taken the opportunity to “thank the police and other security agencies across the UK for their continued hard work and their extraordinary effort over the last few hours”.

She continued: “We won’t as a British people be intimidated and we won’t let anyone stop us getting on with our lives.

“I would also like to thank the British people for their vigilance and good humour in responding to this threat.”

One of the men arrested at Glasgow airport – Scotland’s biggest – was described as having serious burns, while another reportedly continued to throw petrol over the jeep and himself while the vehicle was ablaze.

The drama at the airport, in which no-one else was injured, came a day after police in London defused two car bombs in the centre of the capital.

“I can confirm that we believe the incident at Glasgow airport and the events in London are linked,” Chief Constable Willie Rae of Strathclyde police said.

“There are clearly similarities and we can confirm this is being treated as a terrorist incident.”

He added that there was “no intelligence prior to the incident suggesting Scotland was likely to be attacked”.

Mr Rae also confirmed at a press conference late yesterday evening that one of the men arrested had a “suspicious device” on his person. It is believed that this was a suicide belt which was discovered on his arrival at Glasgow’s Royal Alexandra Hospital, which was evacuated.

Speaking after the latest threat to the security of the country, newly-appointed prime minister Gordon Brown said: “The first duty of the government is the security and safety of all the British people.

“So it’s right to raise the levels of security at airports and crowded places.

“I want all British people to be vigilant and support the police. I know the British people will stand together united, resolute and strong.”

In the aftermath of the attack yesterday, flights to and from Glasgow airport were diverted after the hub was evacuated and closed, but the airport began to revert to a normal service from 15:00 BST onwards on Sunday.

Eyewitness Stephen Clarkson told media outlets that he had managed to help police wrestle one of the vehicle’s two occupants to the ground.

“There was an Asian male. He was lying on the floor and he was on fire, the Jeep was on fire as well,” he said.

“The fellow got up and started fighting with police. I managed to knock the Asian fellow to the ground and four police officers got on top of him.

“His whole body was on fire. He was quite a big fellow and was disorientated otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to knock him down.”

Ms Smith also spoke to reporters after Mr Brown chaired a Cobra security committee meeting last night.

“The prime minister stressed that all parts of government have got to work together to combat the terror threat,” she said.

“I am satisfied that across government and with the police and agencies, we are doing all we can to protect the public. The police are clear that the most important contribution that the public can make is to carry on reporting anything suspicious and to be vigilant, and I would ask them to do that.

“But I must stress that we mustn’t let the threat of terror stop us from getting on with our lives.