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Witnesses describe raid drama



Great Britain
Acts of terror

LONDON, England -- Residents of two west London neighborhoods were told to leave their homes while armed police swooped on the areas before arresting three suspects in connection with the attempt to bomb the city's transit system more than a week ago.

Two of the suspects from the July 21 bombing attempts are in custody, according to media reports. (Full story)

Nicolas Holliman, who lives on the 350-property estate in Dalgarno Gardens in North Kensington where one of the raids took place Friday, said he had seen four officers with guns and rifles and a specialist firearms officer.

He told Britain's Press Association the officers were focusing on a top floor flat in one of the blocks on the estate and asking for a man called Mohammed to come out.

"He was being asked to come out with his hands up, naked or in underclothes," he said.

"They were giving directions for him to come out, telling him he would be safe if he puts his hands up."

Holliman told PA he believed there was more than one person inside the property because of the way police were shouting at it.

He said there were vocal protests coming from the flat.

Another witness said one of the suspects was heard shouting "I've got rights."

After some time, Holliman heard several shots that he believed were gas being fired at the flat and then silence.

Outside the flat there were police officers and marksmen as well as a helicopter overhead. Holliman said the specialist firearms officer had a gas mask.

Philomena Daly, who also lives on the estate, told PA she saw two policemen in blue overalls accompanying a man in white overalls out of the estate.

Earlier, she heard a controlled explosion and what she thought looked like a smoke bomb.

Less than 1.5 kilometers (one mile) away, dozens of officers -- some wearing gas masks -- swooped on a flat in Notting Hill, near Ladbroke Grove Tube Station, clearing an wide area and cordoning off streets.

Steve Ullathorne, 42, a photographer who lives in nearby Tavistock Road told PA: "There are two police men with machine guns and gas masks on Tavistock Road. Two of them are stationed outside my house and the roads are completely closed."

Civil engineer Keeren Batten, who was working in Notting Hill, said police had mounted an armed raid on a flat in the Tavistock Crescent area.

He and colleagues were working in a hole when they were told to leave the area by armed police.

He said: "We were literally digging a hole in the road when we saw armed police come running past and they said, 'Get out of the hole and get out of the area.'"

"I carried on working really because somebody's house would have been flooded if we had stopped. We could see them running past and they stationed themselves around the park, close to a block of flats.

"They took positions and seemed to be targeting a particular flat just above a doorway. We could see a white curtain moving but we were too far away to make out who was in the building."

While the raids in west London were continuing, armed police arrested two women at Liverpool Street station in the City of London and evacuated the area. The suspects were pinned to the ground, witnesses said.

British Transport Police said the operation was carried out by Scotland Yard officers and confirmed that the site was being searched. Both the mainline station and the Underground station were evacuated.

A BTP spokesman said: "The two women were arrested at around 1.54pm and the station is now closed, the Tube is passing through on a non-stop basis.

"Police are now looking at a number of suspect packages and searching the station."

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