Explosives find in UK terror raid
LONDON, England (CNN) -- British anti-terror police say they have seized a large amount of explosive materials and arrested eight men in a series of raids.
Police sources told CNN on Tuesday the suspects seized in the early-morning raids were "linked to possible Islamist terror."
Peter Clarke, head of London's Metropolitan police anti-terror branch, said the arrests were unrelated to Irish republican terrorism or the Madrid train bombs that killed 190 people this month.
But Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes told reporters in Madrid that one of the suspects may have a link. Police are investigating, he said.
In an unusual public statement, Clarke said half a ton of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, used in the manufacture of explosives, was recovered in west London.
All the suspects were British citizens aged between 17 and 32, Clarke said, and were arrested "on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism."
The men can be held for up to 14 days without charge under Britain's updated terrorism laws.
Clarke gave a hint as to which direction the case may be headed.
"As we have said on many occasions in the past, we in the police service know that the overwhelming majority of the Muslim community are law abiding and completely reject all forms of violence. We have a responsibility to all communities to investigate suspected terrorist activity," he said.
Seven hundred officers carried out 24 raids under the Terrorism Act 2000 across London and southern England, he said, adding that there was no risk to the public.
Ammonium nitrate is a common agricultural fertilizer, but can be mixed with fuel oil to make a powerful explosive.
It was used in the October 12, 2002 blast in Bali that killed 202 people, mostly Western tourists, and the Oklahoma City bomb in 1995 that killed 168 people. About 2.5 tons of the substance was used in the Oklahoma City bomb.
Clarke said part of the investigation would focus on the "purchase, storage and intended use of that material."
Police displayed a large, white plastic bag with strips of yellow tape similar to the one containing the ammonium nitrate and asked for the public's help in determining where the chemical came from.
UK attack 'inevitable'
London has been on guard against a potential terrorist attack since the March 11 bombing of four commuter trains in Madrid that killed 190 people.
Britain's most senior police officer Sir John Stevens has said officers are investigating a "definitive link" between the Madrid bombers and al Qaeda supporters based in Britain.
He also said an attack on Britain was "inevitable" following Madrid.
Earlier this month police in London launched a new drive to try to thwart potential terrorist attacks in the capital.
Scotland Yard and the City of London police jointly launched a public awareness and poster campaign.
The move came as Foreign Secretary Jack Straw met European counterparts in Brussels to discuss anti-terrorist measures, and security experts from the five largest European nations conferred in Madrid. (Full story)