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French police detain 9 suspected of plotting attacks, other extremist activity

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PARIS - French authorities have detained nine people in anti-terrorist raids this week, including people suspected of plotting attacks in France or of belonging to jihadi networks, officials said Tuesday.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls urged police to keep up the pressure in particular on groups preparing fighters to join extremist militants in Syria or to join al-Qaida.

"We will leave no space for these groups," he told reporters.

France has been on higher alert for potential attacks since French troops entered Mali earlier this year to push out al-Qaida-linked extremists who had seized much of the West African country and have threatened France and Europe.

Several French citizens have also gone to Syria to fight alongside extremist groups battling President Bashar Assad's regime. That is complicating the French government's efforts to aid — and possibly arm — the more mainstream Syrian opposition.

Police detained six people in the Paris region Monday suspected of plotting terrorist attacks in France, the Paris prosecutor's office said.

The suspects, between 22 and 38 years old, were being questioned Tuesday by anti-terrorist investigators, prosecutor's office spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre said. They can be held up to four days under France's anti-terrorism laws.

Valls said the six were suspected in a recent theft and had "incontestably the intention to pass to action, or at least a will to commit terrorism."

In an unrelated investigation, three suspected extremists were detained Tuesday morning by agents from the DCRI intelligence agency, Valls said. He didn't give details on the identities or place of arrest, but said the three had been under surveillance for alleged involvement in a jihadist movement.

"This means that the threat is still here," he said.

Valls said some 48 people have been detained this year in 21 anti-terrorist operations. Most were let go, but some 17 remain in custody pending further investigation.

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