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Tuesday, 23 April, 2002, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
Germany arrests 'terrorist' suspects
German policeman
Police from across Germany were involved in the raid
German police have arrested 11 members of a Palestinian organisation suspected of plotting attacks in the country.

The cell in Germany was until now predominantly involved in falsifying passports, collecting money and smuggling fighters; the initial focus was providing logistical support for Afghan fighters

Prosecutor's office
The suspects were detained in raids on 19 locations, including houses in Berlin, Munich, Essen, and Duesseldorf, which started early on Tuesday morning.

They are all suspected members of the German cell of the Sunni Palestinian 'al-Tawhid' movement, a fundmentalist group supporting Islamic "jihad", or "holy war", the German prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Details have not yet been given of the nature of the attacks allegedly being planned, but the prosecutor's office said there was no connection between the arrests and a recent attack in Tunisia, in which 11 German tourists were killed.

Dawn raids

According to the prosecutor's office, the German cell was primarily involved with supplying fake identity documents and gathering donations, but had initially helped to provide logistical aid for fighters campaigning against Western forces in Afghanistan.

"On the basis of our current knowledge, the group is part of an international network which helped provide logistical and financial support," the statement read, adding that the group's European headquarters were believed to be in Britain.

German television has also reported the authorities believe several of those arrested attended training camps in Afghanistan and had already acquired weapons for specific missions

The raids began at 4:00 GMT, involving police forces from across the country and members of the German border guard.

During the dawn swoop, computers, software, forgery equipment and bundles of written documents were seized.

These will be examined by the country's criminal investigations bureau, which is handling the inquiry.

The BBC's Patrick Bartlett
"The arrests will add to a growing climate of nervousness in Germany"
See also:

03 Dec 01 | Europe
EU to push through terror laws
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