Woolwich murder probe: Police make three further London arrests

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Three men were arrested Saturday on suspicion of planning to murder the British soldier hacked to death in a London street in an Islamist attack.

One of the men, 21, was arrested in a street around a mile from the murder scene in Woolwich. The other two men, aged 28 and 24, were arrested at a home in southeast London, with police firing a Taser electric at the suspects, Reuters news agency reported.

Britain is dealing with the aftermath of a grisly murder which was the first fatal Islamist terror attack in the kingdom since the 2005 London bombings.

Prime Minister David Cameron is launching a new task force to tackle extremism and radicalization, his Downing Street office said, according to AFP news agency,

Meanwhile an inter-faith group reported a large spike in anti-Muslim incidents, while up to 2,000 members of the far-right English Defense League (EDL) staged a protest in the northeastern city of Newcastle.

Drummer Lee Rigby, 25, who survived a tour of duty in Afghanistan, was butchered in broad daylight Wednesday outside the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, southeast London.

Michael Adebolajo, 28, and 22-year-old Michael Adebowale remain in a stable condition after being shot by police at the scene of the killing.

They have both been arrested on suspicion of murder and are under armed guard in separate hospitals.

The three men arrested Saturday on suspicion of conspiracy to murder were all held by detectives from the Counter Terrorism Command supported by specialist firearms officers.

Officers were also searching four residential addresses in southeast London.

The new counter-terror task force will include key cabinet ministers and bring in police and security chiefs when needed.

It will focus on radical preachers who target potential recruits in jails, schools, colleges and mosques. It was also to monitor trends in radicalization and tackle "poisonous narratives".

Downing Street said the group would focus on practical measures rather than getting bogged down in theoretical debates about Britishness and cultural values.

Meanwhile, there have been questions over the role of the British security services in the months leading up to Rigby's killing after uncorroborated allegations intelligence officers tried to recruit one of the men suspected of killing the soldier.

A man identified by the BBC as Abu Nusaybah told its flagship news program "Newsnight" on Friday that Adebolajo was approached six months ago to see if he would work for them as an informant. He said Adebolajo had refused.

Police said a 31-year-old man was held at 2030 GMT on Friday on "suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism". Police said the arrest was not linked to the soldier's murder.

A source close to the investigation told Reuters earlier this week that both men suspected to have attacked the soldier were known to Britain's MI5 domestic security service. However, neither man was thought to pose a serious threat.