Dec 18, 9:35 AM EST

UK police probe murder claims in child abuse case

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LONDON (AP) -- British police said Thursday they are investigating three allegations of murder as part of an inquiry into claims that politically powerful people sexually abused children several decades ago.

London's Metropolitan Police force said a man who says he was abused from the age of 7 alleges that three boys were killed.

Detectives revealed the claim Thursday as they appealed for witnesses and abuse victims to come forward. They said they were examining old missing-persons cases, and no bodies had been found.

The force is investigating allegations that a group of pedophiles linked to senior levels of British politics and law enforcement abused children in the 1970s and `80s.

The inquiry focuses on an apartment building near Parliament that was long popular with politicians as a London base. Police say abuse also may have taken place at other addresses in southern England, "including military premises."

Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald, who is leading the investigation, appealed Thursday for men who were abused 30 years ago to come forward.

"I would ask you to trust me," he said. "I will support you, and do everything in my power to find those responsible and bring them to justice."

The police probe, named Operation Midland, is one of several inquiries triggered by revelations that the entertainer Jimmy Savile, who died in 2011, was a prolific pedophile who abused hundreds of children.

Since then several once-prominent entertainers have been convicted and police have reopened dormant abuse inquiries.

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