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France makes 12 arrests in light of terror alert

French police arrested 12 people in anti-terror swoops linked to heightened terror fears in Europe. The raids followed warnings that heavily armed attacks on European cities may be being planned.

French soldiers patrol around the Louvre museum

Tourists have been warned to be vigilant

Police in France arrested 12 people in raids on suspected Islamist militant networks on Tuesday amid fears that European cities are being targeted for attack.

Anti-terrorism officers made nine arrests in Marseille and the nearby city of Avignon, police said, seizing "some weapons, including a Kalashnikov (rifle) and a pump-action shotgun, as well as ammunition."

The arrests were made on suspicion of involvement in arms and explosives trafficking, authorities revealed.

Three other men were arrested after their numbers were obtained from the cell phone of an Algerian man arrested in Italy, allegedly with bomb-making equipment.

French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux

Hortefeux confirmed the arrests were linked to Islamist militants

The action follows warnings that al Qaeda may be planning attacks with heavily-armed gunmen in European cities.

"There is a terrorist threat at the moment in Europe. It must be neither overestimated nor underestimated," Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux told France's National Assembly, confirming that the raids had taken place.

"On such a sensitive, difficult issue, the French government is naturally working hand in hand with our partners, our allies and even further afield," the minister said.

Drone attacks elevated

Recent increased numbers of US drone attacks in Pakistan are thought to be part of an effort to disrupt any "Mumbai-style" plot.

Several national governments have now issued warnings for their citizens to be vigilant when travelling in Europe.

The drone strikes include one on Monday that Pakistani security sources say killed at least five German nationals living in the tribal border area of Pakistan.

Security sources say that information about the planned raids in Britain, France and Germany - based on attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai that killed some 166 people - came from a German national detained in Afghanistan.

Author: Richard Connor (AFP/dpa/Reuters)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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