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French cops arrest 8 suspected in Syria extremist network

French cops arrest 8 suspected in Syria extremist network
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said those arrested on Tuesday in the Paris and Lyon areas are not suspected of links to the January 7-9 attacks.

Police are trying to thwart new violence and find possible accomplices to three radical Islamic gunmen who attacked a kosher grocery and newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The men claimed allegiance to extremists in the Mideast.

Three of those arrested today had traveled to Syria and returned in December 2014, a French official said, though it was unclear whether they joined the Islamic State group or another group.

The network began sending French fighters to Syria in May 2013, and at least one of them was killed there, the official said. Other members of the network are still in Syria.

The group did not appear to be involved in any particular plot, or linked to any other networks already broken up in France in recent months, said the official, who was not authorized to be publicly named discussing security matters.

France has seen hundreds of homegrown radicals join extremists abroad, most linked to the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

Cazeneuve said recent atrocities by the Islamic State group -- including the killing of a Japanese
hostage -- “only strengthen the government’s determination to fight terrorism every day and every hour.”

French authorities have come under sharp criticism for being overzealous in cracking down on potential threats since the attacks, arresting dozens for comments seen as defending terrorism and notably questioning an eight-year-old boy.  

Meanwhile, eight men charged with one of the world’s biggest jewel heists went on trial on Tuesday in Paris, accused of stealing more than $113 million worth of luxury watches, necklaces, earrings and other valuables from a Harry Winston boutique in two operations.

Many of the jewels have never been found. Charges against the men included armed robbery in an organized gang, association with a criminal enterprise and receiving stolen goods.

Four men dressed as building painters entered into the store near the Champs-Elysees, a popular tourist area, by a service entrance in 2007, tying up staff and stealing 360 items of jewellery and 120 watches, according to judicial documents. A year later, the store was targeted again.
Agencies

Agencies

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