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British officer killed in ricin probe raid

Police: Three North African men arrested

A police officer was killed and four others wounded in a counterterrorism raid in this building Tuesday.
A police officer was killed and four others wounded in a counterterrorism raid in this building Tuesday.

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MANCHESTER, England (CNN) -- A police officer was stabbed to death and four others were wounded Tuesday during a counterterrorism raid connected to the investigation into an alleged plot to use the deadly poison ricin, authorities said.

Three suspects -- described as North Africans -- were taken into custody, and a murder investigation has been launched, said Manchester police Assistant Chief Constable Alan Green.

"We've lost a colleague; many people have lost a friend. This is a tragedy," Green told reporters.

He said the four wounded officers' injuries included stab wounds and a broken ankle. None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening.

A team of officers and immigration officials had gone to the three-story apartment in north Manchester to arrest one man under Britain's anti-terrorism laws. But when they arrived, they found two other men inside the apartment, Green said.

"It is still unclear, but it appears that at least one of the men attacked the officers with a weapon, probably a large knife," he said. The 40-year-old officer who was killed was stabbed in the chest.

As for the possibility of ricin in the apartment, Green said, "There is nothing at this stage to suggest there is anything within the premises."

Ricin is made from the castor bean plant. One milligram of it can kill an adult. There is no antidote.

If inhaled, ricin can cause death in 36 to 48 hours from failure of the respiratory and circulatory systems. If ingested, it causes nausea, vomiting and bleeding of the stomach and intestines, followed by failure of the liver, spleen and kidneys, and death by collapse of the circulatory system.

If injected, ricin immediately kills the muscles and lymph nodes near the site of the injection. Failure of the major organs and death usually follows.

Green sought to assure the public that authorities are acting swiftly.

"We are carrying out a number of intelligence-led operations, and we will do everything to ensure public safety," he said.

Last week, four men were taken into in custody during a raid on a London apartment and charged in connection with an alleged plot to use ricin. In addition to traces of ricin, equipment that could be used to produce the poison was found in the apartment.

Suspects remanded to custody

The four -- Mouloud Feddag, Samir Feddag, Mustapha Taleb and a 17-year-old who can not be named for legal reasons -- were remanded when they appeared at Bow Street Magistrates' Court in central London on Monday. They are due to appear at the Old Bailey on Friday.

The four were charged Saturday under the United Kingdom's Terrorism Act of 2000 with "possessing articles of value to a terrorist" and involvement in developing or producing "chemical weapons" under the Chemical Weapons Act of 1996.

It was the first time charges have been filed under the 1996 law.

The four suspects were part of a group of seven North Africans arrested last week, Scotland Yard said.

A fifth man, Nasreddine Fekhhadji, was charged with two counts of possessing false documents under the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act.

He was also due to appear at Bow Street Magistrates' Court on Monday.

A sixth man, whom police have not named, was not charged under the Terrorism Act but is being questioned in connection with alleged possession of drugs and immigration matters.

A seventh man has been released into the custody of the Immigration Service.

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