British counterterrorism forces are monitoring “thousands” of potential extremists in the capital’s metropolitan area, London Mayor Boris Johnson said in a newspaper interview published Saturday, as police continue to question five men arrested on suspicion of terrorist offenses.

His comments came as police chiefs warned police officers throughout Britain to use extra care because of an increased threat to their personal safety

The Daily Telegraph newspaper quoted Johnson as saying the security forces in the London area are involved in “thousands of operations” every day. He said the number of people being watched is in the low thousands.

“In London we’re very, very vigilant and very, very concerned,” he said, adding that the national threat level had recently been raised. It is now listed as “severe,” meaning an attack is viewed as highly likely.

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