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4 British Soldiers Arrested on Suspicion of Membership in Banned Neo-Nazi Group

FILE - The Scotland Yard headquarters building is seen in London, Dec. 20, 2010. British police on Tuesday arrested four soldiers on suspicion of being members of an outlawed neo-Nazi group and planning terrorist acts.

British police have arrested four army soldiers on suspicion of being members of an outlawed neo-Nazi group and planning terrorist acts.

The Ministry of Defense confirmed the men were army members.

Authorities allege the men belong to National Action, a neo-Nazi group that was banned in Britain last December after it praised the murder of parliament member Jo Cox, who died at the hands of a far-right nationalist.

Police say the arrests were made in the cities of Birmingham, Ipswich, Northampton in England and in Powys, Wales. They also say the suspects, whose names have not been disclosed, are between the ages of 22 and 32.

The West Midlands Counterterrorism Unit said the arrests were the result of a pre-planned and intelligence-led" operation and there was "no threat to the public's safety."

Britain is on a "severe" threat level, the country's second-highest level, meaning an attack is highly likely.

Suspected Islamists have killed 35 people in Britain this year, including in June, when driver Darren Osborne allegedly killed a man after plowing a van into worshipers near a London mosque. Prosecutors said Osborne, who is in jail awaiting trial, was "motivated by extreme political views and a personal hatred of Muslims."

A British police chief said last month the number of referrals to authorities regarding suspected right-wing extremists doubled since Cox's death. Cox was killed in June 2016 by a far-right nationalist identified as Thomas Mair, who authorities said was obsessed with Nazi and white supremacist ideology.

When National Action was outlawed last year, Interior Minister Amber Rudd described the group as "racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic."