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Eight people have been arrested under the Terrorism Act in Birmingham in connection with an alleged plot to kidnap a British soldier.
A number of addresses in the city have been sealed off after morning raids.
Senior security sources told BBC News the raids were focused on a plot to target and kidnap a serving member of the British armed forces.
The operation, believed to have taken six months, involved police and security service MI5.
Security services said today that they had foiled a suspected plot to kidnap and torture a British Muslim soldier recently returned from service abroad before beheading him live on the internet.
Eight men were arrested in a series of dawn raids at 12 addresses in Birmingham. John Reid, the Home Secretary, has been informed of the arrests and is receiving regular updates about the operation.
Security sources said that the carefully planned operation had averted the alleged plan to kill the soldier, which was in its later stages.