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France arrests 10 in new raids on Islamists - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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PARIS, (AFP) — French police swooped on suspected radical Islamists in pre-dawn raids for the second time in less than a week Wednesday, arresting 10 people, a source close to the investigation said.

The raids were carried out in the southern port city of Marseille as well as Roubaix near the Belgian border, and in several other locations in the country’s south and southwest, the source said.

They came as 13 suspected Islamists arrested last week were charged with “criminal conspiracy connected to a terrorist enterprise” and illegal possession and transportation of weapons.

The 13, some of whom are members of a suspected extremist group called Forsane Alizza that was banned this year, were among 19 suspects arrested on Friday in the wake of attacks by an Islamist gunman who killed seven people.

Nine of these, including Forsane Alizza leader Mohamed Achamlane, were ordered to be remanded in custody as police investigate their alleged crimes which include a plan to kidnap a judge, officials said.

French authorities vowed a crackdown on Islamist extremists after self-confessed Al-Qaeda follower Mohamed Merah was shot dead in a police siege following the killing spree, in which three children died.

The killings shocked the nation and came just weeks before France’s hotly-contested presidential election, with security becoming a major campaign theme and President Nicolas Sarkozy closing the gap in opinion polls on his main rival, Socialist Francois Hollande.

But the French opposition has criticised the presence of television news cameras during the police raids as the images could be seen to bolster the chances of right-wing Sarkozy’s re-election after the two-round poll.

Centrist candidate Francois Bayrou said Wednesday it was normal for the state to round up people suspected of crimes but that when “that is done with journalists summoned and in the presence of cameras, I find that astonishing.”

French authorities have vowed a crackdown on Islamist extremists after self-confessed Al-Qaeda follower Mohamed Merah was shot dead in a police siege following a killing spree in which he murdered seven people, including three children.

The killings shocked the nation and came just weeks before France’s hotly-contested presidential election, with security becoming a major campaign theme and President Nicolas Sarkozy closing the gap in opinion polls on his main rival, Socialist Francois Hollande.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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