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Missiles may guard London Olympics

LONDON -- Surface-to-air missiles could be stationed on the rooftops of an apartment block in east London as part of Britain's air defenses for the Olympics, the country's military confirmed yesterday.

Around 700 people living at the building in Bow, about 2 miles from the Olympic Stadium, have been warned that the weapons and about 10 troops are likely to be based at the site for around two months.

In a leaflet sent to residents, the ministry said the venue offered an uncluttered "view of the surrounding areas and the entire sky above the Olympic park." Troops plan to conduct tests next week at the building, a luxury gated apartment complex, to determine whether the high-velocity surface-to-air missiles will be stationed on a water tower attached to the site's roof.

Britain has previously confirmed that up to 13,500 troops will be deployed on land, at sea and in the air to help protect the Olympics alongside police and security guards.

Defense Secretary Philip Hammond has said Typhoon fighter jets, helicopters, two warships and bomb disposal experts will also be on duty as part of the security operation.

But the ministry insisted that "no final decision on whether or not to deploy ground-based air defense systems for the games has been taken."

Resident Brian Whelan said those who live at the site were wary over the plan.

"From the few people I've spoken to, and the security we have here, they're not happy about it," he said. "I don't think it needs to be here at all."

The leaflet to residents insisted there would be no hazard to those living in the building. It said the missile system would be "only authorized for active use following specific orders from the highest levels of government in response to a confirmed and extreme security threat."

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