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France: Al Qaeda suspects arrested

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PARIS, France (CNN) -- French police have arrested 11 people over the last 24 hours in an anti-terror operation, French authorities told CNN Wednesday.

French intelligence services led the operation, which came after a lengthy investigation monitoring the activities of those who were eventually detained, according to the Interior Ministry.

The operation began on Tuesday, with the arrests of two individuals at the Orly airport, outside Paris, a National Police spokesman said. The two "had just returned from abroad."

The spokesman said the other nine suspects believed to be linked to al Qaeda were arrested Wednesday outside the southwestern city of Toulouse. The Interior Ministry confirmed that the nine are from southwestern France.

The suspects "are thought to be part of networks recruiting fighters to be sent to Iraq," the spokesman said.

Police would not confirm the nationalities of the suspects, citing the ongoing investigation. There was no immediate word on whether charges would be filed.

According to his office, French interior minister and presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy said he was "pleased" with the "arrest of nine individuals believed to be in liaison with the Al Qaeda terror network."


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