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French Counterterrorism Forces Raid 2,235 homes, Seize 334 Weapons, Arrest 232 Suspects

In the intense two-week period following the horrendous November 13 jihadist attacks in Paris, French counterterrorism forces have already raided 2,235 homes and buildings, arrested 232 people and seized 334 weapons, of which 34 were war-grade, according to reports.

“In 15 days we have seized one-third of the quantity of war-grade weapons that are normally seized in a year,” French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters.

Along with the arrests and seizure of arms, police raids confiscated illegal narcotics at 165 different locations.

The Minister announced that police had closed down three mosques following the declaration of a national state of emergency. For the moment the closures are considered provisional, and will last the duration of the state of emergency, he said.

One of the mosques was closed Wednesday, after a search uncovered a 9mm pistol, a hidden hard drive, documents about jihad and a life insurance policy. Cazeneuve said that this was the first time that France has taken these measures, deemed necessary because of “Islamist radicalization.”

“Operations are being carried out against hate preachers and self-proclaimed imams,” the minister said.

Answering critics who have suggested that the state of emergency could be lifted, Cazeneuve said that the “state of emergency was needed and is still required,” and added that “it is terrorism that threatens freedom today, not the state of emergency.”

The detentions of some 26 persons known for previous involvement in violent demonstrations will be lifted once the COP21 climate change meetings are concluded, he said.

Attacks by Islamic State radicals on November 13 left 130 persons dead and hundreds more wounded.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome

 

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