Woolwich attack: Security scares in wake of killing

The flight from Pakistan on the tarmac at Stansted. Picture: PA
The flight from Pakistan on the tarmac at Stansted. Picture: PA
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POLICE were called out to three separate incidents yesterday, as security fears soared in the aftermath of the terrorist murder of a British soldier in London.

RAF Typhoon fighter jets were scrambled to escort a Boeing 777, which was travelling from Pakistan to the UK, after the pilot sent out an emergency code.

The Manchester-bound flight, carrying 297 passengers, was diverted to Stansted, and two men were arrested and taken into custody.

There were huge tailbacks on the M6 after police closed a stretch of the motorway while they investigated a “suspicious vehicle” at a service station.

Earlier, there had been massive disruption as London Bridge Underground station was evacuated, after unconfirmed sightings of a man carrying an axe .

All the incidents came in an atmosphere of heightened tension following the daylight murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich on Wednesday in a terror attack. Two men, believed to be Islamic extremists, were shot by police during the incident and are under arrest in hospital.

Yesterday, the grieving family of Mr Rigby, 25, who had served in Afghanistan, paid an emotional tribute to a “true warrior”.

“I love Lee and always will”, said widow Rebecca Rigby, mother of their two-year-old son, Jack. “I am proud to be his wife.”

There were several appeals for calm, including from Muslim leaders, after a burning bottle was hurled at a mosque while people were inside at evening prayers.

Thames Valley Police said the bottle containing flammable liquid had been thrown on to the roof of the Granby Mosque, in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, at 11:30pm on Thursday.

Tensions are set to be raised today, with members of the English Defence League due to hold a rally in Newcastle and their opponents planning a counter-demonstration.

After the Manchester-bound plane was diverted, early indications were that there had been a fight on board Pakistan International Airlines flight PK709, and that the incident was not terrorism-related. The jets were scrambled from RAF Coningsby ten minutes before the plane had been due to land.

A police spokesman said: “Essex Police have boarded a passenger plane and two men have been arrested on suspicion of endangerment of an aircraft.”

According to one fellow passengers, the men, aged 30 and 41, had repeatedly tried to get into the cockpit.

The Highways Agency said of the M6 closure: “Police are dealing with an incident near Corley services. The motorway has been closed in both directions.”

London Bridge Tube station was closed for an hour, from just after 5pm. A British Transport Police spokesman said: “Armed officers carried out a search.”

No arrests were made.