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UK terror police board cargo ship

New Scotland Yard
Anti-terror police from New Scotland Yard led the operation.  

LONDON, England -- Anti-terrorist officers have intercepted and boarded a cargo ship in the English Channel.

A British police spokesman said the vessel was being searched and the crew had cooperated fully with the boarding party.

Police said the raid was "a major security operation" but gave no details about why the MV Nisha -- registered in St Vincent in the Caribbean -- had been intercepted.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "We remain on top-level vigilance throughout these coming weeks. Even if there is only a potential risk we will not hesitate in any action we think necessary to investigate."

The anti-terror police unit stopped the ship at 0800 GMT off the southern English coast in a joint operation with the Royal Navy and HM Customs and Excise officers.

A police spokesman told Reuters news agency: "A full security search of the vessel has been completed and no noxious or dangerous substances have been found aboard the vessel.

"At this stage it is not possible to say how much longer officers will remain aboard the ship."

MV Nisha was boarded in international waters in accordance with international law, the spokesman said.

The ship had sailed from Mauritius and was believed to be carrying a cargo of sugar for British sugar company Tate and Lyle Plc.

A company spokesman told Reuters the Nisha was carrying 26,000 tons of raw sugar and that the search could take days.

It had been due to arrive Saturday at the company's Newham refinery in east London, next to the Thames Flood Barrier.

He added the crew were mainly Indian and Filipino and that Mauritius was one of the company's major suppliers of raw sugar.


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