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Police Arrest Bombing Suspects in London, Italy


From NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand.

Coming up, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist breaks with President Bush's stance on stem cell research.

But first, all four suspected bombers in last week's botched transit bombings in London are reportedly in custody today. One was arrested in Italy, the others in London after police staged dramatic raids in two neighborhoods. Here's how an eyewitness, who refused to be identified, described one of the raids.

Unidentified Woman: As I came to my front door, I then heard the police saying to them, `Look, you know, you need not shout,' and, you know, lots of kind of--I suppose like hostage situation almost. They were shouting to him that he needs to come out with his arms up in just his underwear. So he was saying to them, `How do I know when I come out that you're not going to shoot me? I'm scared. How do I know that you're not going to shoot me?'

BRAND: Peter Clarke, head of the Metropolitan Police's Anti-Terrorist Branch, discussed the developments at a press conference today.

Mr. PETER CLARKE (London Metropolitan Police): We have conducted operations at two residential addresses in West London. From those addresses a total of three men were arrested.

BRAND: Earlier, I spoke with NPR's Anthony Kuhn, reporting from London about the arrests.

ANTHONY KUHN reporting:

The action began around midmorning when armed police assault teams surrounded two residence in the Notting Hill area of West London. They evacuated residents there and cordoned it off, and then eyewitnesses described hearing explosions, which may have been from police blowing off doors or throwing stun grenades. Apparently, this standoff ensued, a siege situation in which the police negotiators managed to apparently coax out at least one suspect. We saw that suspect led away in a forensic suit, put in a car and apparently taken to the high-security Paddington Green police station. A total of three people were arrested there, but only two of them are believed to be suspects in last week's attempting bombings.

BRAND: And what can you tell us about this arrest in Italy?

KUHN: In Italy, the Interior minister, Giuseppe Pisanu, told the ANSA news agency that Italian police arrested a British citizen of Somali descent named Osman Hussain in Rome. We hadn't had this person's name disclosed before. He's suspected of attempting an attack near the Shepherd's Bush Underground station in West London last week, and police had released pictures, but this is the first time we've heard his name mentioned.

BRAND: And so what do these latest arrests mean for the overall bombing investigation?

KUHN: Well, British media are saying that the police are very happy about this, and if the suspects are who they think they are, this means that they may have completely rounded up the cell of suspected bombers involved in last week's attacks. Now they already had one man, Yasin Hassan Omar in custody. The other men who were believed to have been arrested today--one of them was Muktar Said-Ibrahim, who was involved in an attempted attack on a bus, and now we have this other man in Rome. So there has been speculation of a fifth bomber, but unless that's true, they do have all of the cell and the investigation can now turn to who was behind it--who financed it, who organized it, who made the bombs.

BRAND: NPR's Anthony Kuhn in London. Thanks a lot.

KUHN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.