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Indian-origin woman banker arrested in UK in ongoing anti-terrorism operation

31 January, 2014

LONDON: A woman banker of Indian origin has been arrested in London reportedly as part of an anti-terrorism operation. Kuntal Patel has been charged with attempted murder, Britsh media reported on Thursday.

The 36-year-old banker, the daughter of a magistrate, Meena Patel, will be produced at the Westminster Magistrates' Court this afternoon. She was arrested in Counter Terrorism Command raids, the police said.

The 19-year-old son of a senior British diplomat was also arrested during the raid, but there will be no further action against him, the police said. He was released on bail.

The police have refused to share details about Ms Patel's arrest. But reports said officers in protective clothing were seen searching the Stratford, east London, home of her mother, Meena Patel.

A police statement said, "A 36-year-old woman (B) arrested on 26 January on suspicion of an offence under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 remains in custody at an east London police station...We are not able to discuss further at this stage." It also said, "Inquiries are ongoing as part of an intelligence-led pre-planned operation."

Ron Manley, a local councillor who has known the Patels for more than 20 years, described them as an "upstanding family," the Daily Telegraph said.

"Meena is a magistrate and used to work for a local authority, Kuntal works in the city and Meena's younger daughter Poonam is a pharmacist. They are a Hindu family and I've known the two girls since they were at primary school. They have always been very polite, very nice girls," Mr Manley was quoted as saying.

The Times reported that counter-terrorism officers conducted the operation due to intelligence that police might find dangerous chemicals, but the focus was on potential criminal rather than terrorist offences.

The police said there was nothing to suggest that the public was at risk. Britain's Foreign Office has declined to comment on Ms Patel's arrest.

Newspaper reports said the teen arrested on suspicion of an offence under anti-terrorism laws and later released was the son of a first secretary -- typically the third rung below an ambassador and the deputy head of mission in an embassy. The diplomat had worked in Brazil and Cuba, the reports said.

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