Saturday, January 9, 2010

London police storm Dubai-bound plane, 3 held

LONDON (Agencies)

Armed officers stormed a plane at London's Heathrow airport as it was about to depart for Dubai and arrested three men on suspicion of making a bomb threat, police said Saturday.

The Emirates flight was preparing to take off late Friday when a "verbal threat" was made to staff, London's Metropolitan Police Service said.

"Police were alerted and armed officers boarded the plane," a police statement said.

" The police just swarmed the guy and then rushed him out. I think he was a white male "
Passenger Cameron McLean

"Three men aged 58, 48 and 36 were arrested and are now in police custody. They have been arrested on suspicion of making a bomb threat."

Police were searching the aircraft but media reported no harmful substances were believed to have been found on the plane, which had 331 passengers on board.

Sky News television reported that the men arrested were English and appeared to be drunk.

It broadcast a grainy photograph purportedly taken inside the aircraft, showing police in black overalls, and a passenger said officers brandishing guns in body armor burst onto the plane and hauled the suspects away.

Passenger Cameron McLean, who Sky said supplied them with the photograph, told the broadcaster: "Some special police just came on the plane and arrested these two guys a few rows in front of me.

"The police just swarmed the guy and then rushed him out. I think he was a white male," he said.

The passenger added there were about five armed officers who were wearing helmets, body armor and carrying what appeared to be automatic weapons.

The security scare came after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, allegedly tried to detonate a device stitched into his underwear on a flight from Amsterdam as it landed in the United States on December 25.

In a court in Detroit on Friday, he pleaded not guilty to six charges related to the incident, which has led to security being stepped at airports worldwide.