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Six arrested in possible threat to pope

Six arrested in possible threat to pope
Pope Benedict XVI prays at a church in Jerusalem May 15, 2009. (UPI Photo/Yannis Behrakis/Pool) | License Photo

LONDON, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- A sixth person was arrested Friday in a potential terror plot against Pope Benedict XVI in London, police said.

His arrest came several hours after five suspected Islamic terrorists were arrested after counter-terrorism officials got a tip about a potential threat, the BBC reported.

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The six men, who were street cleaners, were taken to a London police station, officials said.

All six were arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, police said.

"Today's arrests were made after police received information following initial inquiries by detectives," London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement. "Following today's arrests policing arrangements for the papal visit were reviewed and we are satisfied our current policing plan remains appropriate."

The arrests and potential plot didn't disrupt the pope's itinerary, the statement said.

Officials said the arrests were made as a precaution and that several locations were being searched. Officers said they haven't found any hazardous items.

Papal spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said after the first five arrests the Vatican was "totally confident" in Scotland Yard and its ability to handle the incident, the BBC said. The itinerary for the first papal trip to Britain in 28 years was unaffected.

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The papal team had no direct information about the police operation, Lombardi said, adding that the pope remained calm and had been greeted warmly at his stops.

"The police have already said that the information demonstrated that there is no need to change the program," he said.

The terrorism threat level remained "severe," meaning a terrorist attack was highly likely.

Benedict had praise for teachers in a visit to St. Mary's College in Twickenham, The Daily Telegraph reported.

In an apparent reference to the child-abuse scandal facing the church, the pope said he wanted to add a "particular word of appreciation" for people whose job it is to ensure that children have a safe environment in school, the newspaper reported.

About 100 protesters demonstrated against the Vatican's views on gay rights, equality and birth control prior to the pope's arrival in London, police said.

The pope was scheduled to meet with representatives of other faiths before visiting with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at Lambeth Palace, the BBC said.

Pope Benedict later will address members of Parliament, then celebrate evening prayer at Westminster Abbey, the BBC said. The pope is not expected to attend a state banquet in his honor.

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