THIS week, 15 years ago, detectives investigating the multi-million pound Securitas robbery were involved in armed raids across the county where the gang struck.

As the net closed in on the gang, Kent Police said a number of search warrants had been executed.

With police activity intensifying, armed officers apparently shot out the wheels of a car and arrested two men on a seafront road near Whitstable, on the north Kent coast.

Meanwhile, in Southborough, near Tunbridge Wells, forensic teams were searching a property after an armed raid.

Detectives believed that with the investigation into Britain's biggest robbery moving at such a fast pace, the robbers were making mistakes.

At a news conference, Kent's Assistant Chief Constable Adrian Leppard said he remained very confident that the gang responsible for the raid on the Tonbridge depot would be caught.

Meanwhile, gunmen in Iraq shot dead 47 civilians and left their bodies in a ditch near Baghdad as militia battles and sectarian reprisals followed the bombing of a sacred Shi'ite shrine.

Sunni Arabs suspended their participation in talks on a new government.

At least 111 people were believed killed in the fury unleashed by the attack on the Askariya shrine in Samarra, including three journalists working for Al-Arabiya television whose bodies were found on the outskirts of the city.

The hardline Sunni Clerical Association of Muslim Scholars said 168 Sunni mosques had been attacked, ten imams killed and 15 abducted following the shrine attack.

The Interior Ministry said it could only confirm figures for Baghdad, where 19 mosques were attacked, one cleric killed and one abducted.

The sectarian violence threatened to derail US plans to form a new national unity government representing all factions, including Sunni Arabs, who form the backbone of the insurgency.

President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, summoned political leaders to a meeting, but the biggest Sunni faction in the new parliament, the Iraqi Accordance Front, refused to attend, citing the attacks on Sunni mosques.

Leaders attending the meeting agreed the best way to respond to the violence was to form a unity government "whose top job should be getting the security situation under control and fighting terrorism, " the president told reporters.

As the country veered ominously towards civil war, the government extended a curfew in Baghdad and Salaheddin province for two days, and all leave for Iraqi soldiers and police was cancelled.