11 asylum seekers detained

By Benedict O'ConnorTHREE Iraqis have been detained at an American air base on suspicion of entering the country illegally. The three men were found in the back of a lorry carrying aircraft parts as it arrived at RAF Mildenhall.

By Benedict O'Connor

THREE Iraqis have been detained at an American air base on suspicion of entering the country illegally.

The three men were found in the back of a lorry carrying aircraft parts as it arrived at RAF Mildenhall.

Armed guards intercepted the men during a routine vehicle inspection on the air base, where security has been stepped up and rigorously enforced since the U.S. terrorist attacks of September 11.


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The lorry is thought to have travelled from Germany and Ministry of Defence Police said the lorry driver had been unaware of his illicit human cargo.

Patrick Nealon, a spokesman for Ministry of Defence Police, said the men were not being treated as terrorists and had not posed a security threat.

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“Security fears surrounding the men were quickly eliminated. It was clear the men had not eaten for some time and appeared to have been travelling for several days,” he added.

“USAF staff treated them very well and gave them food and water before they were handed over to immigration officials.”

The incident occurred on Tuesday, the same day eight other suspected illegal immigrants were detained at nearby Barton Mills.

A member of the public tipped off police after eight men were spotted climbing out of lorry on the A11, near the Fiveways roundabout.

The group of four Iraqis and four Iranians was taken to Mildenhall Police Station for questioning before officers handed the men over to immigration officials.

The lorry they had been travelling in was tracked by police to Snetterton in Norfolk, where two men were arrested on suspicion of conveying illegal immigrants.

A Home Office spokesman said: “I can confirm the UK immigration service was contacted in relation to 11 illegal entrants arrested by police in two separate incidents on June 29.

“The Immigration Service is currently interviewing those arrested. At RAF Mildenhall three Iraqi men were discovered and they have all claimed asylum.

“At Barton Mills four Iraqi males and four Iranian males were arrested. Again, all have claimed asylum.”

benedict.o'connor@eadt.co.uk

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