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British police arrest 3 men at airport on terror charges

LONDON - Three men were arrested at Heathrow Airport and held on suspicion of “possessing articles and documents with intent to use them for terrorist purposes overseas,’’ police said Friday.

The suspects, residents of Britain’s second-largest city, Birmingham, were arrested Thursday night as they arrived from Oman. Police did not release their names.

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The three, ages 33 to 39, were detained by officers from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit as part of what police called a “preplanned and intelligence-led’’ operation that was not mounted “in response to any immediate threat to public safety.’’ They were held under Section 57 of the British Terrorism Act. That law makes it a criminal offense to possess materials that create a “reasonable suspicion’’ that they are “for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation, or instigation of an act of terrorism.’’

A police spokeswoman said that British officers had traveled to Oman to meet with authorities there before making the arrests, but she declined to provide further details about the operation or to describe the articles and documents the men possessed.

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