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Tags: Europe | Terror

Russians Arrested With Cache of Weapons in France

Tuesday, 20 January 2015 09:50 AM

 Prosecutors in southern France announced they will hold a news conference Tuesday afternoon — a development that came after reports that five Russian Chechens were arrested and a cache of explosives was found.

Midi Libre, a local French newspaper, cited local prosecutor Yvon Calvet as confirming the arrests in Montpellier and Beziers. Calvet told the newspaper it was not immediately clear whether a terror attack was planned. Midi Libre said an explosives cache was found in Beziers near a stadium.

France has been on high alert since the Jan. 7-9 terror attacks In Paris that left 20 people dead, including three gunmen.

In Paris, meanwhile, four men faced preliminary charges Tuesday on suspicion of links to one of slain terrorists, Amedy Coulibaly.

Three French gunmen including Coulibably carried out the terror attacks from Jan. 7-9 in the Paris region, targeting the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, police and a kosher supermarket. Twenty people were killed in all, including the gunmen in police raids.

The Paris prosecutor's office said the four men in court Tuesday, the first to face charges in the Paris terror attacks, are suspected of providing logistical support to Coulibaly.

Coulibaly shot a policewoman to death on the outskirts of Paris and then seized hostages inside a kosher supermarket, killing four before he was killed by police. It is not clear whether the suspects, all in their 20s, were involved in plotting the attacks or even aware of Coulibaly's plans.

The Paris prosecutor's office said five others arrested in the investigation were released without charge.

No one has been charged for direct involvement in the Jan. 7-9 terror attacks. Coulibaly claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group while the two brothers who attacked the Charlie Hebdo newspaper said they were backed by al-Qaida in Yemen.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls told journalists Tuesday that the attacks should force France to look at the "apartheid" within, saying fighting hatred, anti-Semitism and racism in the country is an urgent priority, notably in France's impoverished suburbs that house sizable immigrant communities.

Valls, a relatively conservative Socialist whose hard line on Islamic extremism has won many fans, says he wasn't making excuses for crime or terrorism, "but we also have to look at the reality of our country."

Valls said memories have dimmed of the three weeks of riots by disaffected youths in 2005 that shook France.

"And yet, the stigmas remain ... a territorial, social and ethnic apartheid that has imposed itself on our country," he said. "The social misery is compounded by the daily discriminations, because someone does not have the right name, the right color of skin, or because she is a woman."

In response to the 2005 riots, the French government spent hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) to improve conditions in its rundown suburbs, with little success. Unemployment among young people in the housing projects is well above the national average and state buildings are often targeted for vandalism and arson.

"The fight against hatred, anti-Semitism in all its forms, racism — these fights are absolutely urgent," Valls said. Young people who refused to take part in a national minute of silence for the terror attack victims "are symptoms of something that is not going well."

In Athens, an Algerian man suspected of jihadi terrorist links in Belgium appeared before a Greek prosecutor for an extradition hearing on being sent to Belgium. The suspect, whose name was not released, was detained Saturday in Athens, where he lives.

Belgium launched a large anti-terrorism sweep last week, during which two suspects were killed and one wounded, that netted several returnees from Islamic holy war in Syria.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Europe
Prosecutors in southern France announced they will hold a news conference Tuesday afternoon - a development that came after reports that five Russian Chechens were arrested and a cache of explosives was found.Midi Libre, a local French newspaper, cited local prosecutor Yvon...
Europe, Terror
603
2015-50-20
Tuesday, 20 January 2015 09:50 AM
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