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Police search a large park in London for a terrorist suspect who has escaped from prison

LONDON (AP) — British police searched a large London park Friday for an ex-soldier who escaped prison awaiting trial on terrorism charges.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed that the search in Richmond Park in the southwest of the city, which involved two helicopters and officers on the ground, was linked to the hunt for Daniel Abed Khalife. The 21-year-old slipped out of Wandsworth Prison on Wednesday morning while working in the kitchen, apparently by clinging to the underside of a food delivery van, police said.

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

He was discharged from the British Army following his arrest earlier this year and had denied the allegations. His trial is scheduled for November.

His escape has led to extra security checks at airports and in the port of Dover, the main boat sailing from England to France. But the activity centered on Richmond Park, 1,000 acres of woodland and grassland about five miles from Wandsworth Prison.

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Opposition politicians demanded to know how Khalife escaped the medium-security prison and why he was not held in a maximum-security prison. The Conservative government has said there will be an independent inquiry.

Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism commander Dominic Murphy said there had been no confirmed sightings of Khalife since his escape, describing the prisoner as “very resourceful.”

“He was a trained soldier — so ultimately he has skills that some parts of the public may not have,” Murphy.

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