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Associated Press

LONDON — Five dissidents were arrested and charged with a range of serious and rarely invoked terror offenses, Northern Irish police said Friday.

Five men aged between 33 and 47 were charged with offenses such as conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to cause an explosion, preparation of terrorist acts and collecting information of use to terrorism.

Northern Irish police said three of the men were arrested in Lurgan, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, on Monday as part of a "proactive investigation" into dissident republican terrorist activity. The other two were arrested Saturday in Carrickmore and Omagh, Northern Ireland, as part of the same investigation.

British intelligence has stepped up efforts in Northern Ireland recently. And law enforcement officials believe Irish dissidents could pose a threat to the Olympic games, which will be held between July 28 and August 7. The Olympic torch is passing through one of the most heavily bombed streets in Northern Ireland in early June.

But a British official said the men arrested Monday are not believed to have been planning attacks on the Olympics, torch relay, or Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations this year.

Last fall, a Lithuanian judge found an Irish man guilty of trying to buy weapons and explosives in a six-year sting orchestrated by Britain's domestic spy agency MI5 — a case that drew attention to a hardcore Irish Republican Army splinter group's plans to spread terror to London.

AP-EU-Britain-Terror,374 05/18/12 [Last modified: Friday, May 18, 2012 9:35pm]
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