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UK lowers national terrorism threat level to 'substantial'

FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians use the Millennium Bridge on the South Bank, opposite St Paul's Cathedral, in London, Britain December 27, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain downgraded its national terrorism threat level to “substantial” from “severe” on Monday, its lowest level since 2014, interior minister Priti Patel said.

The threat posed to the country has largely stood at “severe” for the last five years but in 2017 it was briefly moved to “critical”, twice, meaning an attack was highly likely in the near future.

Britain suffered four attacks in 2017 that killed 36 people, the most deadly of which occurred at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, northern England. Other attacks occurred at London Bridge and near the Houses of Commons in Westminster.

“Despite the change in the threat level, terrorism remains one of the most direct and immediate risks to our national security,” Patel said in a statement.

The “substantial” threat level continued to indicate a high level of threat and an attack might well occur without further warning, she said.

Britain’s threat level is set by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre that is independent of government and makes its decisions based on the latest intelligence and analysis of internal and external factors.

Writing by Kate Holton; Editing by William Schomberg