Police raids target Islamists in France, 10 arrested


French police arrest the leader of Islamist group Forzane Alizza, Mohamed Achamlane, in Bougenais, western France, on March 30, 2012.



French police launched sweeping early morning raids on suspected Islamists in cities throughout the country, arresting at least 10 people as part of the government's latest effort to curb extremist activity there, Agence-France Press reported

Today's arrests come two days after the the explusion of several Islamic preachers from France, said BBC

More from GlobalPost: French Islamist group Forsane Alizza 'planned to kidnap Jewish judge'

An additional 19 people were detained on similar grounds last week. Thirteen of them now face terrorism charges, according to BBC

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been at the forefront of a recent crackdown on religious extremism in the country after a shooting rampage by self-confessed Al-Qaeda follower Mohamed Merah in Toulouse killed seven people.

Sarkozy, who is currently campaigning for president, has jumped on an opportunity to speak out about security issues ahead of France's initial April 22 election round, promising to rid the nation of "a certain number of people who have no reason to be here," said BBC

Police said raids were conducted by elite security forces early today in the southern port city of Marseille and a number of other locations in the country's south and southwest, according to AFP

Police have been taking care not to relate the raids to the Merah incident, but one police source, speaking on the condition of anonymity told BBC today that those arrested have a "similar profile to Mohamed Merah."

"They are isolated individuals, who are self-radicalised," said the source, who was also quoted by Britain's Telegraph