French police killed one man and arrested 10 people today, in what officials called “a vast counter-terrorism operation” following a grenade attack on a kosher shop last month.
Police found evidence including a list of Jewish associations in the Paris region, an al-Qaeda publication, wills and more than 27,000 euros ($35,240) in cash in arrests near the capital and in eastern and southern France, public prosecutor Francois Molins said today.
The people were part of a “radical Islamic” network “who were in permanent contact and who met regularly,” Molins said in a televised press conference in Paris. Investigators are reviewing evidence and interrogating suspects to determine the group’s plans, he said.
The investigation began after a grenade exploded on Sept. 19 at a kosher grocery in Sarcelles, a northern suburb of Paris, injuring a customer. That same day, France said it would close diplomatic sites in 20 Muslim countries on concern a French satirical magazine’s publication of cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad would provoke violence. The caricatures were published days after U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three others were killed in a wave of protests outside American embassies against a film seen as insulting Islam.
An 11th person was arrested this afternoon in Cannes, Agence France-Presse said, citing an unidentified judicial official.
A breakthrough in the investigation came on Sept. 25 when DNA on the grenade led them to a “delinquent” in Strasbourg who had been known to intelligence services since this spring as having been “converted” to radical Islam after a 2008 arrest for dealing drugs, Molins said.
Death in Strasbourg
The 33-year-old man was sitting on his couch this morning when police came to his apartment. He was shot and killed after emptying his gun at them, injuring three officers.
He “wanted to die a martyr,” said Pierre Poirret, the prosecutor for Strasbourg, in a televised press conference there.
Molins described the others in custody as in their 20s and born in France. Some appear to have been radicalized after arrests for theft or drugs, like the Strasbourg man, and one was carrying a loaded gun, “ready to fire,” when he was arrested upon returning from “a place of prayer,” he said.
They are being held for “varying degrees of involvement” in a terrorist enterprise, weapons charges and assault on police officers, Molins said.
The authorities will continue to “protect the French against all terrorist threats,” President Francois Hollande said today in a statement praising the police for the operation.
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