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Five held in counter-terror swoops

Five men have been arrested on suspicion of Syria-related terror offences after armed police officers swooped on a vehicle at Dover port as it attempted to leave the UK.

Two men, aged 33 and 43, were arrested in Dover at 11.30pm last night by Scotland Yard anti-terror officers with support from Kent Police, while a 28-year-old man was arrested at the same port this morning.

Under the same operation, two men, aged 24 and 40, were arrested in east London. All five are being held on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

It is understood the operation was in connection to Syria-related terrorism.

In addition, a 37-year-old man was arrested in Dover on suspicion of people trafficking offences, the Metropolitan Police said, while a further 12 men and one woman who were stopped in the same vehicle were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences.

The five men have all been taken to a central London police station where they remain in custody, while f our addresses in east London and one in south London are being searched as part of the investigation.

The Port of Dover declined to comment.

The arrests were made at the end of counter-terrorism awareness week, which saw increased activity at ports across the country.

Britain's chief counter-terror police officer warned the current threat to the UK from jihadists will remain for ''several years''.

The terror threat level in the UK was raised from substantial to severe a few months ago against a backdrop of increasing concerns over hundreds of aspiring British jihadis travelling to Iraq and Syria to learn terrorist ''tradecraft''.

Fears of a terrorist attack on Britain's streets have heightened in the wake of the rise of Islamic State (IS), the extremist group that has taken over large swathes of Iraq and Syria and attracted thousands of foreign jihadists to its cause, including more than 500 Britons.

Last week, a new Counter-terrorism and Security Bill, containing a range of draconian powers including new orders that can block suspected British fighters from returning to the UK, was introduced to Parliament. It will move to a second reading in Parliament tomorrow.

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