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Tuesday, 20 June, 2000, 22:37 GMT 23:37 UK
French footballers 'face terror threat'
Emmanuel Petit
France's Emmanuel Petit is among those thought to be at risk
By the BBC's Gary O'Donoghue

The Dutch authorities say they have arrested three alleged members of a criminal organisation which may have had plans to target the Euro 2000 football tournament.

Those arrested are to appear in front of a judge in the next few days.

The arrests were made at the request of the authorities in France, following the interception of mobile phone calls from several suspected members of an armed Islamic extremist group currently being held in French prisons.

A spokesman at the French Interior Ministry would not say what the nature of the calls were, but told the BBC there was an ongoing investigation by one of France's top anti-terrorist judges into possible threats against the French national football team.

The spokesman confirmed that two members of the elite RAID group of police officers were accompanying the French team ahead of their match with the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Islamists

The men who made the phone calls from their prison cells are believed to be associated with the GIA - a hardline Islamic group based in Algeria which has been waging a guerrilla campaign against the government there for almost 10 years.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict.

The GIA and their associates have not, however, restricted their activities to Algeria alone.

One of the men who made the telephone calls from La Sante prison in Paris is serving an eight-year jail sentence for a bombing campaign inside France.

Another of the three was arrested prior to the 1998 France World Cup, when police swooped on more than 50 alleged sympathizers of extreme Islamic groups.

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17 Apr 00 | UK
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