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19 suspected Islamist extremists held in France

Paris, Fri, 30 Mar 2012 ANI

Paris, Mar 30 (ANI): French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said police have detained 19 people in a crackdown on suspected Islamist extremists in several cities around his country on Thursday, and that more such raids are planned.

"It's in connection with a form of Islamist radicalism," The Telegraph quoted Sarkozy, as saying.

Sarkozy gave no details about the justifications for the arrests, or what specifically the detainees are suspected of.

The raids come after a spate of killings in southern France claimed by Mohamed Merah, a 23-year-old Frenchman who espoused radical Islamist views and said he had links to al-Qaeda. Merah was killed in a gunfight with police last week and buried near Toulouse on Thursday.

The shootings in Toulouse and nearby Montauban, when three Jewish schoolchildren, three paratroopers and a rabbi were killed, were the worst terrorist attacks in France since the 1990s and have revived concerns about home-grown Islamist radicals carrying out violence.

French Muslims have worried about a backlash after Merah's attacks, and French leaders have urged the public not to equate Islam with terrorism. (ANI)

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