French police rounded up 10 suspected radical Islamists in their second countrywide sweep in several days today, leading to criticism that President Nicolas Sarkozy is ramping up raids to win votes in a tight election.
The arrests are part of a high-profile crackdown in the wake of attacks on soldiers and a Jewish school. They were carried out as part of a preliminary investigation opened Monday into terror-linked activity in France, a judicial official said.
Another official close to the investigation said the 10 were suspected of links to Islamist websites and of threatening violence in on-line forums. Some of them may have been trying to attend jihadist training camps along the Afghan-Pakistan border, he added.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing policy.
The operation was led by France's counterespionage agency, DCRI, and targeted people authorities feared could turn to action, instead of just issuing idle threats, according to the judicial official. Police seized computer hardware in the raids.
The raids in five cities, mostly in southern France, were the second in several days and appeared to be part of a new focus on rooting out radical Islamists in France.
Sarkozy, who is facing a tough re-election, has promised to hunt down radicals and hold them to account or kick them out of the country.
But he has come under criticism for using the raids and expulsions to further his campaign and for not doing enough to prevent the killing spree last month in and around Toulouse that left seven dead.