| Detective Stephen Oake who was stabbed to death during a raid in Manchester. (Reuters)
Manchester, Jan. 15 (Reuters): British police interrogated three north African suspects today after a policeman was stabbed to death during an anti-terrorism operation linked to the discovery of a deadly poison in London.
Shocked by the first loss of an officer in dozens of post-September 11 swoops on suspected terror cells, Prime Minister Tony Blair's government said the incident had “major implications” for its wider war on terror.
Addressing parliament in a sombre mood, Blair said:“It reminds us of the threat that international terrorism poses here in Britain and of the need to take all the measures we possibly can to stamp it out in all its forms.”
Detective Stephen Oake was stabbed to death with a kitchen knife late yesterday during a raid in Manchester, northern England, connected to last week’s discovery of ricin in London. Four other police officers were injured.
Blair — whose nation is considered high on the list of terrorism targets because of its military and political support for the US — called the incident “an appalling tragedy and wicked in the extreme”.
Blair knew policeman
Oake was known to the Prime Minister after serving in his protection unit several times.
The Manchester raid was the latest in a string of British anti-terror swoops in recent months, from the southern coastal town of Bournemouth to the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.
More than 200 people have been arrested in Britain under anti-terror legislation since September 11, 2001, with several dozen currently awaiting trial. Most are north Africans, with the majority coming from Algeria. “This matter has major implications in terms of our anti-terrorism crime and security act,” home secretary (interior minister) David Blunkett said. “This threat is a continuous and dangerous one.”
Critics were quick to question why the suspects were not handcuffed and the officers unarmed. Manchester police assistant chief constable Alan Green said an internal review into the operation was already under way and made a plea for no reprisals against local Muslims.
No toxin was found in the Manchester apartment.