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Military help UK police respond to Heathrow drone threat


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London's Heathrow Airport, shown last month, suspended flights briefly Tuesday night amid reports of a drone in the area.

LONDON (AFP): Britain’s armed forces were supporting police Wednesday at London’s Heathrow Airport after a drone sighting led to the suspension of all departing flights for nearly an hour on Tuesday. 

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the military had been sent to Europe’s busiest airport at the request of police. 

It follows a similar deployment at Gatwick Airport just three weeks ago after multiple drone sightings there caused three days of travel chaos. 

“Last night, at the request of Metropolitan Police, our armed forces deployed to assist and support them,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “Our armed forces are always there when needed, ready to support the civilian authorities with our capabilities.” 

Heathrow, which handles nearly 214,000 passengers daily, closed its northern runway after witnesses, including police officers, spotted a drone above the west London airport. 

Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said “a full criminal investigation” had been launched. 

“We are carrying out extensive searches around the Heathrow area to identify any people who may be responsible for the operation of the drone,” he added. 

The disruption caused by Tuesday’s incident appeared minimal, with Heathrow saying it was “operating normally” on Wednesday.


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