Elite police in France have carried out a series of dawn raids on suspected Islamist militants in several cities, with a source close to the investigation saying at least 10 people had been arrested.
French police launched a string of early-morning raids in several cities, including Marseille, on Wednesday. A source close to the investigation said that 10 suspected Islamists had been arrested.
France's domestic intelligence service, the DCRI, led the operations, with support from two other elite units. The raids took place in several cities besides Marseille, including Pau and Valence in the south and the northeastern town of Roubaix.
These arrests follow 19 similar collars in a set of raids on March 30, with the heightened police activity following shortly after a string of shootings conducted by Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah, who ultimately died in a shootout with police on March 22.
"Those arrested have a similar profile to Mohamed Merah," a local police source told Reuters. "They are isolated individuals, who are self-radicalized."
Conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed tougher measures to root out Islamism in France after Merah's attacks. The 23-year-old, who was said to be inspired by al Qaeda, killed three French paratroopers in two separate shootings and then killed a rabbi and three children in an attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse.
Sarkozy is fighting for re-election in a presidential ballot that looks certain to run over two rounds of voting in April and then May. He is virtually neck-and-neck with Socialist rival Francois Hollande in the polls.
msh/ipj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)