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Reports: U.K. Arrests Tied To 'Large-Scale' Terrorist Plans

More details are starting to come in about the arrests in the U.K. early today of a dozen men in three cities -- in what the AP says were "the most high-profile terrorism raids in Britain in more than a year and a half."

The Guardiansays "counter-terror officials believed a bombing attack was being prepared and arrested the men. The closeness of Christmas appears to have been a factor, but it is not clear whether investigators were nervous because of any specific intelligence that an attack was imminent, or whether the 'landmark' date made them anxious."

The BBC writes that its correspondent Danny Shaw "said counter-terrorism sources had described the operation as significant and it was related to an investigation into al-Qaida-inspired terrorism. 'The suspects are believed to have been involved in a plot against targets in the UK,' he said. 'This is not believed to have been a potential plot of a Mumbai-style attack, but a plot involving explosives or bombs.' "

And the Guardian adds that:

"Of those arrested today, five -- aged 23, 23, 25, 26 and 28 -- are from Cardiff, while three, aged 17, 20 and 28, are from London. Four of the men -- two 26-year-olds, a 19-year-old and a 25-year-old -- are from Stoke. All 12 were arrested under the 2000 Terrorism Act. A number of the men are Bangladeshi. Intelligence was being gathered on the men until the arrests were made at 5am. Police said counter-terror officers were unarmed when they detained the men."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.