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Seven people arrested near Aachen in connection with Paris attacks

German police have arrested seven people near the city of Aachen in connection with the Paris attacks. However, Germany's interior minister said that they do not appear to be "directly related."

Two women and one man were arrested near the German town of Aachen. Reports came in later that four further arrests followed. Police sources said that the arrests were made in connection to the November 13 Paris attacks, which saw 129 people killed.

"We had received some tip-offs indicating that one of the individuals sought in connection with the events in Paris was in our jurisdiction," a police official said. Special units were deployed to carry out the operation.

The police confirmed that at least three of those arrested were foreign nationals.

However, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Tuesday that the seven people arrested in Aachen did not appear to be "directly" responsible to the Paris attacks.

"The assessment is not yet completed. But as things stand now, it does not appear to be the case that this is directly related to the attacks in Paris," de Maiziere said.

The local newspaper "Aachener Zeitung" said that the first arrests were made at a job center in Alsdorf just northeast of the city of Aachen at roughly 9:30 am local time (8:30 UTC). An eyewitness said that the police had cordoned off a street while patrolling the area with machine guns.

Later four more people were arrested in nearby Alsdorf, police said.

The identities and exact nationalities have not been disclosed, but police across Europe have been on a massive manhunt looking for 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam - a brother to one of the suicide bombers in Paris. Abdeslam had spent at least several days in Germany in September.

Ongoing operation

Aachen is a university town with 250,000 residents near Germany's border with the Netherlands and Belgium. The city is only 160 kilometers (100 miles) east of the Belgian capital Brussels, from where the Paris attacks appeared to have been organized.

The police said that this was still an ongoing operation and could therefore not divulge any further details at the time.

French jihadist involved in masterminding attack

Meanwhile the AFP news agency reported that French police identified a French jihadist named Fabien Clain to have produced the audio recording of the self-declared "Islamic State" (IS) group statement claiming the Paris attacks.

The 35-year-old is known among radical Islamist networks in the southern French city of Toulouse and had been convicted in 2009 for recruiting jihadists.

Clain reportedly left for Syria after serving a five-year-sentence.

ss/kms (dpa, AP, AFP, Reuters)