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Claims Paris Terrorist Had Birmingham Photos On His Phone "Unhelpful And Misleading"

Police urged people to be "alert but not alarmed" after claims Abdelhamid Abaaoud was targetting Birmingham.

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Police have insisted the terror threat remains unchanged after claims in the Mail on Sunday one of the men suspected of organising the Paris terrorist attacks had photos of locations in Birmingham on his phone before he died.

The Mail on Sunday claims the Belgian, who was killed in a special forces raid days after the attacks which killed 130, had a picture of the city's Bullring shopping centre on his smartphone, among other photos of "key and sensitive sites".

According to the report, community leaders in Birmingham have been informed of the development.

But in a statement, West Midlands Police counterterrorism lead Marcus Beale said: "Continued speculative articles by newspapers and the associated rumour that causes are both unhelpful and misleading.

"Whilst the threat level across the country is at a severe level it has been at this level since August 2014 − businesses, our partners and the public should continue as they have been."

He added: "We are of course urging people to be alert but not alarmed and report anything suspicious at the first opportunity."

Speaking to BuzzFeed News, a police spokesperson would not comment on the specific claims made in the Mail on Sunday article about photos reportedly found on Abaaoud's phone.

But when asked about dialogue with community leaders, the spokesperson said: "Our counterterrorism unit has officers who speak as part of their duties to key members of our communities.

"It's the same as any issue, not just terrorism, whether it's gun crime or knife crime. We have a bank of people who shares the key messages about any incident, terrorism just being one of them."

Earlier this month West Midlands Police issued a statement denying there was a specific terror threat in Birmingham after rumours circulated online.

Matthew Champion is a weekend editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Matthew Champion at matthew.champion@buzzfeed.com.

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