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UK Middle East laptop-ban could expand to all routes

The UK ruling applies to travellers from six Middle Eastern states [AFP]

Date of publication: 26 March, 2017

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The ban currently applies to flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia but Amber Rudd has not ruled out extending the ban to.

A British ban on laptops, and tablet devices targeting travellers from six Middle Eastern states could be extended to all flights entering the country, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said on Sunday.

Currently the ban applies to flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia.

But speaking in an interview with BBC journalist Andrew Marr, Rudd suggested that the ban could be expanded.

"If terrorists, or bad guys, have found ways to turn laptops into bombs in planes presumably that information could be used anywhere around the world and there should eventually be a full-time ban on laptops on aircraft anywhere?," said Marr, in the televised interview. 

In response Rudd answered: "It is difficult to say how far this will go, whether we will at some stage arrive at that place. But at the moment the government has made the decision on where to have the ban in place based on intelligence we have received."

The UK ban follows a similar ruling made by the United States applying to travellers from 10 airports in eight Middle Eastern and North African states.

According to the ban travellers are not permitted to take laptops, tablets, and other electronic equipment larger than than 6.3 inches long, 3.6 inches wide and 0.6 inches on board with them as hand luggage.

Instead such items must be checked in, and placed in the aircrafts hold. 

The UK ban came into effect on Saturday.

The Guardian, quoting an anonymous security source, has reported that the ruling was made following the discovery of a plot to use a fake iPad to bring explosives onto a plane without specifying further details.

Last year the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab smuggled a laptop laden with explosives onto a flight out of Mogadishu. 

The laptop bomb was detonated tearing a hole in one side of the plane, but the aircraft was close enough to the ground enabling the pilot to land. 

Officials, airlines and civilians from those countries targeted by the ban, have all expressed objections and anger at the US and UK rulings. 

Earlier this month the UK's most senior counter-terrorism official said that security services had foiled 13 potential attacks in less than four years, with more than 500 investigations aimed at preventing terror attacks ongoing at any one time. 

The announcement was made before a British national launched a lone-wolf attack targeting the British parliament in Westminster killing three civilians, and a policeman, before he was shot dead by police outside the British Houses of Parliament.

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