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UK police arrest five people for alleged terrorism offences

Four people arrested in Birmingham and another arrested at Gatwick airport as part of 'extensive' investigation following attacks in Europe
Police patrol Gatwick airport, where one of the suspects was arrested (AFP)

Five people have been arrested for alleged terrorism offences in Britain as part an investigation involving French and Belgian authorities, British police said on Friday.

Three men aged 26, 40 and 59 and a 29-year-old woman were arrested in Birmingham on Thursday, while a 26-year-old man was arrested at Gatwick airport south of London on Friday.

"This action forms part of an extensive investigation by West Midlands counter-terrorism unit, together with the wider counter terrorism network, MI5 and international partners including Belgian and French authorities to address any associated threat to the UK following the attacks in Europe," senior police officer Marcus Beale said in a statement.

"The arrests were planned and intelligence-led. There was no risk to the public at any time and there is no information to suggest an attack in the UK was being planned," he said.

Contacted by AFP, a police spokeswoman declined to comment on any possible link to attacks in Belgium and France.

Top Brussels and Paris attacks suspect Mohamed Abrini, who was arrested in Belgium earlier this month, was spotted in Birmingham last July, according to reports.

The Wall Street Journal newspaper cited unnamed Western officials saying several people with connections to the Paris attacks' suspected planner Abdelhamid Abaaoud live in the Birmingham area.

Suicide bombings at Brussels' airport and on a metro train killed 32 people last month, while militants killed 130 people in bombings and shootings in Paris in November.

Both attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group.

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