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'Plotters likely to be of Pak origin'

india Updated: Aug 12, 2006 20:24 IST
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The perpetrators of a foiled attempt to blow up airliners flying from Britain to the United States are likely to be of Pakistani origin, France's Interior Minister said on Thursday.

"In two to three days we'll have more concrete information on the modus operandi of this terrorist group, that appears to be of Pakistani origin," Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said.

British police have so far arrested 24 people in connection with the plot on Thursday. All of the suspects, reported to be British Muslims, are now in custody in a top-security jail in London.

Sarkozy also said that France would order full searches of all hand luggage on flights to the United States, Britain and Israel as part of stepped up security after the foiled plot.

He said France would leave its current security alert level at red, the second highest, and that security on the Eurostar rail link between France and Britain would be increased.

"We have decided ... To conduct 100 per cent searches of hand luggage on all flights bound for the United States, Britain and Israel," Sarkozy said.

"We will also carry out random searches and step up patrols on the Eurostar, and stations and airports in France," he said.

He said there appeared to be no link between the suspects arrested by British authorities and known terrorist groups in France but he expected to receive further briefings from British authorities in the next few days.

British police on Thursday foiled a suspected plot to blow up several aircraft mid-flight between Britain and the United States in what Washington said might have been an attempted Al-Qaeda strike.

Sarkozy noted that France stepped up surveillance of its growing Pakistan community last year and said the measures would now be enforced.

"We have decided to boost our sources of information and vigilance regarding this community whose members overall pose no problem, but in which there could be a few problems."

But he said that reinforced security measures introduced after the July 7, 2005 attacks on the London underground meant that there would be no change to the general alert level.

France went on red alert on July 7 last year in response to attacks on London transport by Islamist suicide bombers that killed 52 people.

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