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Canadian Officials Investigate Possible Threats To Visiting Leaders

  • David Dyar

As leaders gather in Canada for the G-8 and G-20 summits, officials have arrested at least three people in connection with possible threats of violence over the past several days. The latest arrest came Thursday a short distance from where the G-20 summit will take place, and just hours before leaders began arriving at Toronto's airport.

Authorities in Toronto say they arrested a 53-year old man after officers saw him driving a car that had a large metal box on top that made it appear to be unsafe to drive.

Police spokeswoman Nena Snyder says what they saw inside the car alarmed them. "There was an array of weapons found in the car, and containers that are normally used to hold gasoline, but we don't have any indication yet of what was actually in those containers," he said.

Worried police closed off the street to traffic and had the car examined by officers wearing special clothing intended to protect them from dangerous chemicals or germs. The incident is still under investigation.

This latest arrest comes one day after a different man was charged with possession of explosives as part of an alleged plot to attack the summit. Byrone Sonne, was arrested in a raid on a home in a wealthy Toronto neighborhood.

He was charged with possession of dangerous weapons, intimidation against the justice system, and mischief.

Officials say his girlfriend has also been taken into custody. "As a result of an ongoing investigation, Kirstin Peterson of Toronto was arrested and charged with possession of an explosive device, and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose," the spokeswoman said.

Authorities say the vigilance, investigations and arrests are all part of an effort to assure the safety of world leaders gathered for the G-8 summit that begins Friday and the G-20 that convenes the next day.

To cope with expected demonstrations, some businesses and schools have been closed during the meetings and parts of the city blocked off by tall fences.

Canada has spent close to $1 billion on security, and some of that money goes to pay police officers from around the nation to supplement the city and provincial police. An unusually large number of officers can be seen on streets across Toronto, and many are equipped with bullet-resistant vests, helmets and gas masks.