British counterterrorism officers arrest five men over online posts inciting race hate.

The North East Counterterrorism Unit recovered laptops, computer records and mobile phones belonging to five men believed to be far-right extremists posting race-hate material on social network sites including Facebook and Twitter.

The men, aged 18 to 56, were arrested in morning raids and brought to local police stations for questioning. A 56-year-old from Holloway, a 46-year-old from County Durham, a 21-year-old from Barnsley and an 18-year-old from Birkenhead were in custody. A 43-year-old man from North Tyneside was released on bail, a spokeswoman for the counterterrorism unit said.

Police refused to comment on whether the men were related or linked in any other way.

'North West Infidels'

The group reportedly call themselves the "North West Infidels," a splinter group of the far-right English Defence League which opposes Islam. Police refused to comment on the reports or whether the men call themselves the "North West Infidels."

close-up of North West Infidels Facebook page

"It is too early to say. We're still making inquiries," the spokeswoman said. She refused to say whether the men were linked to race-hate postings on Facebook that called for a so-called "flash mob" gathering of sympathisers on 28 April.

The North-East Counterterrorism Unit is responsible for prosecutions under section 19 of the Public Order Act 1986 which deals with publishing or distributing written material that is intended or likely to stir up racial hatred.

Searches are continuing at addresses in London, Barnsley, Birkenhead and Holloway in addition to Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, and Leeds and West Yorkshire, police said.