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Friend of alleged soldier killer arrested

Police question man who talked of suspect on TV

Military boots were placed outside Woolwich Barracks in London to pay tribute to Lee Rigby, a British soldier who was killed in a bloody attack Wednesday on a nearby street. Several suspects have been arrested in the killing.

Bogdan Maran/Associated Press

Military boots were placed outside Woolwich Barracks in London to pay tribute to Lee Rigby, a British soldier who was killed in a bloody attack Wednesday on a nearby street. Several suspects have been arrested in the killing.

LONDON — Counterterrorism police on Saturday questioned a friend of alleged Islamic extremist Michael Adebolajo, one of two suspects in a savage killing of a British soldier on a London street that has horrified the country.

The friend, Abu Nusaybah, was arrested immediately after he gave a BBC Television interview Friday describing how Adebolajo may have become radicalized in Kenya and alleging that Britain’s security services tried to recruit him six months ago. Police said Nusaybah was wanted on suspicion of involvement in unspecified acts of terrorism.

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Meanwhile, a French soldier was stabbed in the throat in a busy commercial district outside Paris on Saturday, and France’s president said authorities are investigating any possible links with the recent slaying of a British soldier.

President Francois Hollande said the identity of the attacker was unknown and cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the assault on the uniformed soldier in the La Defense shopping area. The life of the 23-year-old soldier was not in danger, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Last year, three French paratroopers were killed by a man police described as a French-born Islamic extremist who then went on to strike a Jewish school in the south of France, killing four more people.

On Saturday, British police arrested three more suspects in connection with the attack there. Two men, aged 24 and 28, were picked up at a residential address in southeast London. A third man, 21, was arrested on a London street at the same time.

Police said they used a stun gun on two of the suspects. All three were detained on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder. Officers have already detained four others in connection with the murder of 25-year-old soldier Lee Rigby, who was stabbed to death while walking outside the Royal Artillery Barracks in the Woolwich, south London, on Wednesday afternoon.

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Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, are suspected of killing Rigby by hacking his body with knives and a meat cleaver in front of dozens of passersby Wednesday in the southeast London district of Woolwich. The horrific scene was recorded on witnesses’ cellphones, and a video has emerged showing one of the two suspects making political statements and warning of more violence as the soldier lay on the ground.

Police shot both men as they arrived minutes after Rigby’s slaying. Both suspects remain under armed guard at two London hospitals.

The attack has sparked fears of anti-Muslim sentiments in Britain. Police on Saturday arrested three people on suspicion of posting racist comments on Twitter ahead of a march organized by the far-right group English Defense League in the northern city of Newcastle. Police said some 1,500 people took part in the march.

The group, which has clashed violently with police in the past, has used Rigby’s murder to criticize the British government for not paying enough attention to radical Islam in the country. About 350 people staged a counterprotest.

Faith Matters, a charity campaigning against extremism, said its help line has received 162 calls since Rigby was killed from people reporting anti-Muslim incidents including attacks against mosques.

Questions abound over what could have led the two men to attack Rigby, a 25-year-old ceremonial military drummer and machine-gunner who had served in Afghanistan and was off duty when he was walking near his barracks.

Nusaybah’s interview offered one possible narrative. He said Adebolajo’s behavior changed after he allegedly suffered abuse at the hands of Kenyan security forces.

Nusaybah said in the BBC interview that Adebolajo became withdrawn after he was allegedly arrested and then abused both physically and sexually while in jail.

He said that agents from Britain’s domestic spy agency, MI5, approached Adebolajo after he returned to Britain and initially asked him if he had met specific Muslim militants, then asked Adebolajo if he was willing to act as an informer.

‘‘He was explicit in that he refused to work for them,’’ Nusaybah said. The BBC said police arrested Nusaybah outside its studios Friday night immediately after the interview.

London police confirmed that a 31-year-old man was arrested Friday night on suspicion of ‘‘the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.’’ Police declined to identify Nusaybah by name.

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