Jun 30, 2007
Images from Glasgow airport showed the vehicle ablaze next to the terminal building.
LONDON, England (CNN) -- Two people were arrested in Cheshire, England, in connection with terrorist incidents in England and Scotland, bringing the total number of people in custody to four, Scotland Yard said early Sunday.
On Saturday, a sport utility vehicle was driven into an entrance at Scotland's Glasgow International Airport and burst into flames. On Friday, two explosives-laden cars were discovered at two locations in London.
The United Kingdom raised its terrorism threat level to critical, the highest level possible, after the attack Saturday at Scotland's busiest airport.
Two men were immediately arrested at the airport. One was hospitalized with severe burns; early reports that he had died were erroneous. Watch flames spew from the car » (http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/europe/06/30/london.alert/index.html#cnnSTCVideo)
A third suspect is believed to have died in the Jeep Cherokee that crashed at the airport terminal's main entrance about 3:15 p.m. (10:15 a.m. ET). However, the vehicle was still "in highly unstable condition," and police were waiting to approach it.
William Rae, chief constable of the Strathclyde Police, said part of the Royal Alexandria Hospital in Glasgow was evacuated after a suspicious device was found on the injured suspect. The device was safely taken away and is being examined, Rae said.
Rae said one civilian was treated for a leg injury but there were no other known casualties.
In the United States, President Bush was briefed on the situation, White House spokesman Tony Snow said.
"At this point, I have seen no specific, credible information suggesting that this latest incident is connected to a threat to the homeland," U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said.
There are no plans to raise the U.S. threat level, he said, but security at the nation's airports and other transportation facilities will be increased, along with security on mass transit, for the July 4 holiday period. Some of the changes will be visible, Chertoff said, and others will not.
"We encourage the public to go about their business and recreational plans as usual, but remain vigilant to the events happening in your environment and report any suspicious activities to authorities."
In Glasgow, witnesses described the SUV in flames being driven at full speed toward the building, but Rae -- who is leading the investigation -- said the fire began after the impact.
Witness Jackie Kennedy told the BBC that after the crash, a passenger in the Jeep doused himself with fuel from a can and ignited it, then got out of the vehicle. Airport police used fire extinguishers on him, and he fell to the ground, she said.
"I realized that this was obviously deliberately done -- the fact that the guy was in flames and seemed to be enjoying himself, even smiling," Kennedy told the BBC.
She said another passenger tried to enter the terminal but was grabbed by police. She said the driver never got out.
Rae said police want to interview all of the 20 or 30 people believed to have been standing outside the airport entrance when the crash occurred.
The airport was evacuated and all flights diverted or canceled. A number of passengers remained in aircraft on the tarmac, Rae said. It was unknown when the airport would reopen.
John Lennon Airport in Liverpool, England, was shut down later in the day in response to the attack.
Witness Jim Manson said he saw a car "with a couple of guys in it trying to push their way into the airport terminal building."
The vehicle "suddenly caught fire" as one of the two -- himself on fire -- tried to open up the back of the car, Manson told British television.
There was then a small explosion, and the front of the terminal appeared to catch fire.
"Everyone just ran," Manson said. "We're absolutely terrified, you can imagine. The first thing on all our minds was: Is there an accident? Is there a terrorist attack?"
A witness told Sky News that a man fled from the car as it struck the building and was immediately wrestled to the ground by police.
"The Jeep is completely on fire, and it exploded not long after. It exploded at the entrance to the terminal," witness Stephen Clarkson told the BBC.
"It may have been an explosion of petrol in the tank, because it was not a massive explosion."
In announcing the raised threat level, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, "The first duty of the government is the security and safety of all the British people."
Brown, in office just three days, said Britons stand "united, resolute and strong."
Brown led a meeting of top intelligence officers, police and senior officials in COBRA, the government's crisis committee, his office said.
After the meeting, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said authorities were "doing all we can to protect the public."
"The police are clear that the most important contribution that the public can make is to carry on reporting anything suspicious and to be vigilant, and I'd ask them to do that," said Smith, the government's top law-and-order official. "But I must stress that we mustn't let the threat of terror stop us from getting on with our lives."
In London, police were examining two cars filled with fuel, gas canisters and nails and studying CCTV footage for clues about the identities of those behind a suspected terrorist plot that could have killed hundreds. See photos of the investigation in action » (http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/europe/06/30/london.alert/index.html#cnnSTCPhoto)
Officers have a "crystal clear" CCTV image of a man "staggering" from the first car after parking it outside a West End nightclub, ABC News in the United States reported. Scotland Yard refused to comment.
British officials said hundreds of people could have been killed if the devices in the cars had been set off.
The first car was discovered parked near Piccadilly Circus; the second was found about an hour later, less than a kilometer away near Trafalgar Square.
London is hosting the Wimbledon tennis tournament, a gay pride march and a memorial concert for the late Diana, princess of Wales, this weekend.
Peter Clarke, deputy assistant commissioner for London's Metropolitan Police, was en route to Glasgow, Rae told reporters. He said the public is asked to be vigilant even though there is no intelligence to suggest further attacks might occur.
The weekend's incidents come days before the second anniversary of July 7, 2005, when four Islamic extremist suicide bombers killed 52 people on London's transport system in the deadliest strike on the city since World War II.