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Blair backs police over shooting { May 2006 }

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Blair backs police over "chemical bomb" raid
Tue Jun 6, 2006 6:19 PM BST

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Tony Blair threw his support behind police on Tuesday after a man was shot in a raid on a house police suspected of being used for making a chemical bomb.

Some local Muslim leaders have been quoted as criticising "heavy-handed" police tactics after last Friday's raid in Forest Gate, as police have so far found nothing suspicious.

But Blair said people should be very wary of drawing any conclusions about the raid and said there may be "a whole series of things" police need to look into in connection with the raid.

"I support the police 101 percent," Blair said in an interview broadcast on the Internet.

"I think if they (the police) have a reasonable piece of intelligence that they think they have to investigate and take action on, they should," he said.

"You can only imagine if they failed to take action and something terrible happened, what an outcry there would be then," he added, saying the police were in an "impossible situation".

Blair said he was not concerned about a Muslim backlash if the police got things wrong.

"It's a real mistake to think that your average person from the Muslim community is any different from anybody else. They know perfectly well there's a problem. We know there's a problem with terrorism," he said in the interview in which journalists posed questions sent to Blair's office by members of the public.

More than 250 officers, some wearing chemical, biological and radiological protection suits, descended on the house in one of the biggest raids since last July's suicide bombings on the capital's transport system.

A 23-year-old man was shot during the raid. He and his brother, both arrested under terrorism laws, said they were innocent.

Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

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