Dozens arrested in anti-terror raids across Europe

Published January 17, 2015
French paramilitary control a checkpoint at the entrance to Collobrieres, southeastern France .—AFP/File
French paramilitary control a checkpoint at the entrance to Collobrieres, southeastern France .—AFP/File
French special intervention police officers of Research Assistance Intervention Dissuasion unit, RAID, are seen .—AP/File
French special intervention police officers of Research Assistance Intervention Dissuasion unit, RAID, are seen .—AP/File

BRUSSELS: French, German and Belgian police arrested more than two dozen suspects in anti-terrorism raids on Friday, as European authorities rushed to thwart more attacks by people with links to Mideast extremists.

Rob Wainwright, head of the police agency Europol, said that foiling terror attacks had become “extremely difficult” because Europe’s 2,500-5,000 radicalised Muslims had little command structures and were increasingly sophisticated.

Also read: Obama, Cameron pledge to help seek justice for Paris attacks

Highlighting those fears, a bomb scare forced the authorities in Paris to evacuate the busy Gare de l’Est train station during Friday morning rush hour. No bomb was found.

A man briefly took two hostages at a post office northwest of Paris, but police said the hostage-taker had mental issues and no links to terror.

Know more: Paris post office hostage-taker surrenders

Visiting the tense French capital, US Secretary of State John Kerry met President Francois Hollande and toured the sites of last week’s terrorist attacks: offices of the controversial magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket. Twenty people, including the three gunmen, were killed.

One of the Paris attackers had proclaimed allegiance to the Islamic State group, and French and German authorities arrested at least 14 people on Friday suspected of links to IS.

Thirteen more people were detained in Belgium and two were arrested in France in a separate anti-terror sweep following a gunfight on Thursday in the eastern Belgian city of Verviers. Two suspected terrorists were killed and a third wounded in that raid on a suspected terrorist hideout.

Across Europe, anxiety has grown as the hunt continues for anyone who helped the three Paris gunmen. French police earlier said there could be up to six possible accomplices.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said at least 12 people were arrested in anti-terrorism raids in the area, targeting people linked to kosher market gunman Amedy Coulibaly, who claimed ties to the IS.

France has put the country on high alert and deployed 122,000 police and troops to protect citizens, especially at Jewish schools and transport hubs.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2015

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