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 Friday, 27 December, 2002, 00:22 GMT
French police arrest more terror suspects
Versailles - armed
Armed patrols are on the streets for the festive season
Four more alleged Islamic militants have been arrested near Paris, on suspicion of planning a series of terror attacks.

The arrests were made on Tuesday in the northern suburb of Romainville, the authorities say.

One or several terrorist attacks were being planned in the relatively short term

French Interior Ministry
Last week, four other people of North African origin were detained the nearby suburb of La Courneuve.

During last week's raids, police say they found bomb-making equipment.

Police say the four men arrested in Romainville are of Algerian origin, and that one is the brother of Mourad Ben Chelali, a French national being held at the US base in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

The French news agency AFP quotes unnamed officials as saying the same explosive substance was found during both raids.

French police originally said they had discovered unidentified liquids in small vials in La Courneuve - leading to fears that the suspects were planning a chemical attack.

However, this was subsequently ruled out, when the Interior Ministry said the vials had contained a mixture used to connect electronic components.

Heightened alert

The suspects from La Courneuve are said to be close to a cell based in Germany, that allegedly has links to the al-Qaeda network, and spent time fighting in Chechnya.

France has stepped up security in public places amid renewed fears of attacks over the holiday period.

The Interior Ministry said there was no doubt that "one or several terrorist attacks were being planned in the relatively short term".

The latest detainees are being interrogated by agents from the DST, France's domestic intelligence agency.

Under French anti-terrorism laws, suspects can be held for up to four days after which they must be placed under formal investigation or released.


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