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British police to begin 'activity' in Madeleine McCann search

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

British police investigating the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann at a Portuguese holiday resort said on Tuesday that search "activity" would begin in the next few weeks.

The disclosure from the Metropolitan Police comes after reports that British police want to use radar equipment to search land close to the apartment complex in Praia da Luz where Madeleine disappeared in 2007.

Met Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said activity would occur in "forthcoming weeks", but he was unable to give more details.

In a letter to editors, he urged the British media to avoid speculation about excavation work and to "think carefully" about information they published despite the high interest in the case.

Rowley warned that Portuguese police did not provide the media with regular updates on investigations, and that any activity in Portugal would be halted if police in Britain gave out information to the media, or if journalists disrupted the search.

The announcement came almost seven years to the day after the British girl's disappearance.

Her parents Kate and Gerry have never given up hope that their daughter is alive.

In March, British detectives said they were looking for a paedophile who sexually abused five girls during break-ins at holiday homes between 2004 and 2010 in the Algarve region of southern Portugal where Praia da Luz is located.

The man is suspected of breaking in to 12 properties where British families were staying.

Madeleine vanished just days before her fourth birthday in May 2003 from the bedroom of a holiday apartment while her parents dined in a nearby restaurant with friends.

Portuguese police officially closed their investigation in 2008, which at times proved controversial, especially after they indicted the girl's parents in connection with her disappearance.

After a high-profile campaign by her parents, British authorities began their own investigation in 2013.

On Saturday, a prayer service was held in the McCanns' home village of Rothley, near Leicester in central England.

Around 100 people attended the open-air service in the village centre, in which candles were lit for all children taken away from their parents.

Gerry McCann expressed his gratitude for the police investigation, which he said was now moving on to a "very active" phase.

"They are chipping away and obviously there is new evidence so we are going to continue to hope that we will get a happy outcome," he said.

In a message posted Saturday on the official website dedicated to finding their daughter, Kate McCann said: "Our situation seems as unbelievable as it did that very first night without Madeleine.

"Whenever I find myself becoming paralysed with disbelief, unease, frustration or sadness, I have to refocus my mind on the positives, of which there are many.

"The Metropolitan Police force continue to make encouraging progress in their investigation with new evidence being uncovered, fresh information coming in to the inquiry following appeals and, subsequently, links being made between people and events."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140506/british-police-begin-activity-madeleine-mccann-search