- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 14, 2003

MANCHESTER, England, Jan. 14 (UPI) — A British police officer was knifed to death and four others were injured Tuesday in an anti-terror raid on a house in northern Manchester. Media reports said police linked the raid to last week's discovery of the deadly poison ricin in a London apartment.

"It is an appalling tragedy and wicked in the extreme," said Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Stephen Oake, a 40-year-old plain-clothed officer and the father of three children, died of a stab wound in the chest, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported.

"We have lost a colleague and many people have lost a friend," said Assistant Chief Constable Alan Green.

"Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the officer who has been killed."

Three other officers were stabbed and one suffered a broken ankle, but their injuries are not believed to be life threatening, the BBC said. Three suspects believed to be of North African origin were arrested.

Monday, four North Africans went to court to face charges of terrorism and production of chemical weapons and six others were arrested by anti-terrorism police investigating the discovery of ricin in a London apartment.

The London raid was described as part of an "ongoing investigation" by Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism detectives, who launched similar raids at two locations in the seaside town of Bournemouth, in Dorset, southwest England, and arrested five more men and a woman, all of North African origin.

Ricin, which can be produced comparatively easily from castor oil seeds, is a major concern to police because it is so deadly in such small quantities. Swallowed or inhaled, it acts by causing the lungs, liver, kidneys and immunological systems to shut down, causing death within hours or days. There is no known antidote.

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