Sunday 29 May 2016

Troops on London streets amid fears of terror attack

Stephen Swinford

Published 29/10/2014 | 02:30

Soldiers carry the coffin of Cpl Nathan Cirillo from the church following his funeral service. The Canadian soldier was shot dead last week, while on ceremonial duty, in a suspected terrorist attack . REUTERS/Fred Thornhill
Soldiers carry the coffin of Cpl Nathan Cirillo from the church following his funeral service. The Canadian soldier was shot dead last week, while on ceremonial duty, in a suspected terrorist attack . REUTERS/Fred Thornhill

Armed soldiers have been stationed in Whitehall amid fears that terrorists will try to attack ceremonial guards in the wake of the shooting in Canada.

The soldiers, who are carrying assault rifles, have been deployed at the entrance to Horse Guards Parade, where thousands of tourists gather each day to witness the Changing of the Guard.

The decision follows a review after a Canadian soldier on ceremonial duty was shot dead last week in a suspected terrorist attack.

There are growing concerns that British jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq will return to this country and carry out terrorist acts.

Senior police officers and MPs said there is likely to be a significant rise in the number of armed police at the Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day commemorations next month.

One senior counter-terrorism police officer said that there will also be a large number of officers operating undercover at the events, carrying Heckler and Koch side arms.

Richard Dannatt, the former head of the armed forces, said: "It is a sad sign of the times but discreetly guarding soldiers on ceremonial guard is a far better option than withdrawing them from duty and sight.

"I certainly hope [there will be more armed officers on duty at the remembrance events]. These events must continue and if necessary security must be increased. Terrorists, whoever they are, will not change our way of life or traditions."

Earlier this year, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said more armed police would patrol the streets to counter the risk posed by jihadists returning from Iraq and Syria.

In the wake of the shooting in Canada, Mr Cameron disclosed that the heads of MI5 and Scotland Yard had held emergency talks over the terror threat to parliament and other major landmarks in central London.

The presence of soldiers on Horse Guards Parade marks one of the most visible signs of the raised levels of security in London.

The entrance is part of the Buckingham Palace estate and is usually guarded by two ceremonial guards on horseback and two on foot.

Since Monday, soldiers in combat fatigues have been stationed at the entrance as part of a more "overt" presence.

Military sources said the soldiers are there to protect troops on ceremonial duties after the shooting of Cpl Nathan Cirillo in Ottawa last week.

MPs are being briefed on security plans amid fears that the House of Commons could be the target of a shooting inspired by the "lone wolf" attack on the Canadian parliament.

Meanwhile, Isil has released a video featuring captured British journalist John Cantlie, speaking from the besieged Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani on the Turkish border.

Mr Cantlie is speaking under duress, having been a prisoner of Isis since 2012. Two American journalists held captive, James Foley and Steve Sotloff, have been ritually murdered.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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