France arrests 12 in counter-terror raids, but denies link to US alert

French counter-terrorism investigators arrested 12 people in two separate inquiries yesterday but played down links with a Europe-wide terror alert issued by the US government last weekend.

Three men were arrested in dawn raids in Marseille and in the Bordeaux area for questioning about their alleged links with a Frenchman who was seized with bomb-making equipment in Italy on Saturday. Nine suspected radical Islamist sympathisers were arrested in raids in the Marseille and Avignon areas as part of a lengthy investigation of alleged "links with a terrorist organisation".

Security officials said that it was a "timetabling coincidence" that the two series of raids happened on the same day. They played down suggestions that there was any connection with Washington's warning on Sunday of an imminent terrorist threat to Britain, France and Germany.

A similar warning, from the Algerian government, that an Islamist terrorist group had entered France, was widely publicised by French politicians and officials last month. Security officials later described the warning, including the possibility of an attack on the Paris metro by a female suicide bomber, as "not very credible".

It remains unclear whether the US warning, first publicised by the Fox News network in America, is a separate case or a belated echo of the information from Algeria.

On Saturday police in Naples arrested Ryad Hannoumi, 28, a Frenchman who had recently returned from Afghanistan. He was said to have been found with "bomb-making equipment".

The names of the three men arrested near Bordeaux and in Marseille yesterday were said to have been found in Mr Hannoumi's possession. All are suspected of being part of an "Afghan network", which recruits Islamist militant sympathisers in western Europe.

Mr Hannoumi is believed to have fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan. He is suspected of being part of an Afghan group of European ex-fighters who have been ordered to re-infiltrate Europe. French security sources played down links with the US warning.

The nine other people arrested in southern France yesterday were said to be wanted for questioning as part of a lengthy investigation into suspected Islamist radical groups by an anti-terror magistrate in Paris. Once again, security sources declined to make any link with the Washington warning of an imminent terrorist threat to Europe.

There has been a series of bomb scares in Paris in recent weeks, including two at the Eiffel Tower and two at the Gare Saint Lazare. All have proved to be hoaxes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...