Police have foiled a “significant” Islamic State-inspired plot to attack Britain – with Christmas shoppers feared to be the target.
Armed police seized six people suspected of planning an atrocity yesterday.
A military bomb disposal team was on hand during the co-ordinated raids at properties in the Midlands and London.
Security sources were quoted as saying they had interrupted a “significant” plot.
Sources said the investigation covered a group believed to be working towards an attack – although a strike was not thought to be imminent.
Another source told The Sun: “No specific target has been identified, although the concern is that any attack would have been in a crowded shopping place.
“There has been specific information about terrorist intentions to carry out a terrorist attack in Europe during the Christmas period.”
A 32-year-old woman and five men aged 22 to 36 were today being quizzed. They were held in raids that began at 10pm on Sunday night and ended at dawn today.
All of the suspects are believed to have been under covert surveillance by police and security services. One was held in a dramatic armed swoop at the factory he worked at in Ashbourne, Derbys.
A witness said: “Two cars with policemen armed with machine guns turned up. They went in and arrested the guy in the canteen.
“The police were heavy-handed. They were obviously taking it very seriously.”
Another worker said: “It’s shocking to come into work and hear about the arrest.
“It’s even more shocking because the man is a really nice bloke. Everybody likes him. He works hard and just gets on with it. He gets involved with people.”
The NECTU said: “The arrests are linked to international-related terrorism.”
A search at a house in Normanton, Derby, some 14 miles from the factory, had back-up from the British Army’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit. Police said they were called as a precaution.
Brett Granger, 26, who lives on the street, said: “I went to go to work this morning around 5.30am and had two men in Army uniforms, a man in a white forensic suit, and a police officer who wasn’t in uniform just outside the front of my house.”
He said the police officer told him to “leave the area quickly”, adding: “It’s scary to think things like this are happening.”
Another local said: “There’s been a notable police presence for a few weeks.”
Kabir Ahmed , the second UK jihadi to be killed fighting for IS, was a member of Al-Muhajiroun in the area. He is believed to have taken the lives of eight in a suicide bombing in Baiji, Iraq, in 2014.
Four men from Derby aged 22, 27, 35 and 36, a 27-year-old man from Burton upon Trent and the woman, from London, were all held on suspicion of engaging in the preparation of an act of terrorism.
Officers have 48 hours to charge, release or apply for a warrant for further detention.
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