France arrests 10 suspected militants in latest post-Toulouse raids
While President Nicolas Sarkozy denies the crackdown on alleged Islamist militants in France has anything to do with last month's shootings in Toulouse, today's raids were the second series since the incident.
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French authorities say that the group has been under investigation since October 2011, and the sting's timing, so soon after Merah's shootings, is coincidence. Mr. Achamlane's lawyer rejected the accusations, saying that his client was being used as a political tool in presidential elections. "These are statements that are not supported by any material facts. This affair is purely electioneering and politically motivated, that is all," Philippe Missamou said, according to CNN.Skip to next paragraph
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Reuters reports that, according to prosecutor Mr. Molins, the operation against the group was "brought forward by events in Toulouse" and because the group appeared to be ramping up training and weapons acquisition and holding regular meetings, suggesting "imminent" action.
The Interior ministry announced on April 2 that five Muslim preachers would be expelled from the country. Two have since been deported, and there are plans to expel three more. Interior Minister Claude Gueant said "the moves were part of 'an acceleration of the deportation procedures of foreign Islamic radicals.' " The five are all from other countries: Algeria, Mali, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey, CNN reports.
Security has become a major campaign theme since Merah's deadly rampage, particularly for Mr. Sarkozy, who has caught up in the polls to Socialist challenger François Hollande. Critics of Sarkozy have accused him of capitalizing on the national tragedy. Centrist challenger François Bayrou said today that "it was normal for the state to round up people suspected of crimes, but that when 'that is done with journalists summoned and in the presence of cameras, I find that astonishing,' " Agence France-Presse reports.
Seventy percent of voters approved of Sarkozy's handling of the situation, Reuters reports, and his ratings have "inched" up, although he is still projected to lose to Mr. Hollande in the runoff on May 6.