LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron said on Saturday the threat to Britain remained “severe” after the Paris attacks, as a terminal at a major UK airport was evacuated as a precaution amid heightened security fears.
Cameron did not raise the threat level to its highest “critical” level, which would have meant an attack is expected imminently, after discussing the attacks at an emergency response committee in London.
“The threat is already at ‘severe’ which means an attack is highly likely and will remain so,” he said in a televised address on Saturday.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a coordinated assault by gunmen and bombers that killed 127 people at locations across Paris on Friday night.
“We must recognise that however strong we are, however much we prepare, we in the UK face the same threat,” Cameron said.
Britain’s “severe” threat level has been in place since August 2014. The country’s last major attack was in 2005 when four British Islamists carried out suicide bombings which killed 52 people.
Police evacuated the North Terminal at Britain’s second busiest airport, Gatwick, which is 30 miles south of London, after what they described as “suspicious actions by a man who discarded an item at the airport”.
The man was arrested and bomb disposal experts were called to investigate the item.
“We are investigating the circumstances of the incident and it is too early to say what the item may be,” said Sussex Police Detective Superintendent Nick May. “However, given the events in Paris ... there is heightened awareness around any such incident and it is best that we treat the matter in all seriousness.”
In London, the annual Lord Mayor’s Show, an ancient carnival which has been running for 800 years, was due to go ahead as planned, but preceded by a two-minute silence and with Union flags flying at half-mast, said a spokesman for the show.
Tower Bridge would be lit in the blue, white and red of France’s Tricolor flag later on Saturday, he said.
Additional police patrols across London’s popular West End theatre and restaurant district were also planned for Saturday evening, a spokesman for the police said.
Separately, France’s football federation said on Saturday that a friendly soccer match due to be played between France and England in London on Tuesday would go ahead.
Some of the attacks in Paris took place near the Stade de France, where France were playing Germany. [ID:nL8N1390T3]
Additional reporting by Kate Holton, Editing by John Stonestreet and Digby Lidstone