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Police search huge London park for terrorism suspect who escaped from prison



British police have confirmed that an ex-soldier who escaped from prison while awaiting trial on terrorism charges was spotted at a busy roundabout in south London soon after his escape

LONDON -- British police confirmed Friday that an ex-soldier who escaped from prison while awaiting trial on terrorism charges was spotted at a busy roundabout in south London soon after he bolted early Wednesday.

The Metropolitan Police's counter-terror commander Dominic Murphy told Sky News that Daniel Abed Khalife was spotted at Wandsworth Roundabout a little more than a mile away from Wandsworth Prison, soon after he fled the lockup strapped to the bottom of a delivery lorry.

Murphy wouldn't say if the sighting of Khalife, 21, was confirmed by CCTV. But given that London is one of the most surveilled cities in Europe, if not the most, the sighting could provide police with a key starting point in their search for the fugitive.

Murphy also said that police are offering up to 20,000 pounds ($25,000) for information that “directly leads to the arrest and capture" of Khalife.

“We will be closing in on him,” he said. “People, with a reward like this, I'm hoping it will motivate people that know anything about Daniel to call us.”

The revelation that Khalife had been spotted came after the Met searched Richmond Park in the city’s southwest, which involved two helicopters and officers on the ground.

Murphy confirmed that police are still focusing their search on the London area. He also said he thinks Khalife is a “low risk” to the public but noted that he is a “trained soldier.”

Khalife is accused of planting fake bombs at a military base and of violating Britain’s Official Secrets Act by gathering information “that could be useful to an enemy.”

He was discharged from the British army after his arrest earlier this year and had denied the allegations. His trial is set for November.

His escape has prompted extra security checks at airports and the Port of Dover, the main boat crossing from England to France. But activity focused on Richmond Park, 2,500 acres (1,000 hectares) of woods and grassland about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from Wandsworth Prison. The park is home to more than 630 red and fallow deer who have roamed freely since 1637.

Opposition politicians demanded to know how Khalife managed to escape from the medium-security prison and why he was not being held at a maximum-security facility. The Conservative government has said there will be an independent investigation.

The Met's top policeman, Commissioner Mark Rowley, said the prison escape was “clearly pre-planned” and potentially an “inside job.”

He told LBC radio: “Did anyone inside the prison help him? Other prisoners, guard staff? Was he helped by people outside the walls or was it simply all of his own creation?”


Associated Press writer Jill Lawless contributed to this report.