Eight arrested in French probe into suspected jihadist network

Eight arrested in French probe into suspected jihadist network

PARIS - French police on Tuesday arrested eight people suspected of involvement in a network that allegedly sent people to Syria to wage jihad, the interior minister said.

Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters the suspects were arrested around Paris and the southeastern city of Lyon.

Last week, crack security forces arrested five people in the small town of Lunel in southern France, from where around 20 young people have left for Syria.

Some 1,400 people living in France have either joined the jihadist cause in Syria and Iraq or are planning to, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said last month.

France has launched several raids targeting alleged jihadists after a trio of Islamist gunmen left 17 people dead in and around Paris in a three-day rampage in January.

"Nearly a month after the attacks that hit Paris, this operation is a new show of the total determination of the forces of order... to fight relentlessly against terrorism," said Cazeneuve.

A security source told AFP that the group arrested comprised "seven men and a woman, aged between 21 and 46." "Three of them have already travelled to Syria and came back in December," this source added.

The suspects are of Turkish and north African origin and are "part of a wider network", members of which travelled to Syria in three waves last year, the source said.

Several members of the alleged network are still in Syria, the security source said.

Cazeneuve said there were currently 161 legal proceedings against 547 people suspected of jihadist activity.

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