`French police detain 19 suspected Islamists`
Paris: President Nicolas Sarkozy says police in cities around France have detained 19 people in a crackdown on suspected Islamist extremists.
Sarkozy said on Europe-1 radio on Friday that weapons were seized in some of the raids, including AK-47 assault rifles.
He said more such operations are planned.
The arrests in Toulouse in the southwest, Nantes and Le Mans in western France, and in the Paris region, were carried out by the RAID police commando unit, a police source said.
The raids come after a spate of killings in southern France. Mohamed Merah, a 23-year-old Frenchman who espoused radical Islamist views and said he had links to al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the killings. He was killed in a gunfight with police last week.
The shootings were the worst terrorist attacks in France since the 1990s and have revived concerns about homegrown Islamist radicals carrying out violence.
French Muslims have worried about a backlash after Merah`s attacks, and French leaders have urged the public not to equate Islam with terrorism.
But concerns about radical Islam are high, and the government on Thursday banned a string of international Muslim clerics from entering France for a conference of a fundamentalist Islamic group.
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