French police detain six suspects in new anti-terror operation

Police officers and members of press stand outside a building in the center of Lunel, southern France on Jan 27, 2015. French police detained six people Sunday suspected of recruiting potential jihadists, just days after another operation saw fi
Police officers and members of press stand outside a building in the center of Lunel, southern France on Jan 27, 2015. French police detained six people Sunday suspected of recruiting potential jihadists, just days after another operation saw five charged on similar grounds, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said. -- PHOTO: EPA

PARIS (AFP) - French police detained six people Sunday suspected of recruiting potential jihadists, just days after another operation saw five charged on similar grounds, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

France is slowly recovering from the January 7-9 Islamist attacks in Paris that left 17 people dead but remains jittery after incidents such as Tuesday's knife attack on three soldiers outside a Jewish community centre on the French Riviera.

Cazeneuve said in a statement that anti-terrorism magistrates in Paris had ordered Sunday's raid following a probe opened in January last year into "conspiracy to commit a terrorist act and financing of terrorism."

A source close to the probe said five people were held in the southern city of Albi and another in the southwest of France.

All in their 30s, they are suspected of handling questionable money transfers and having recruited candidates to wage jihad.

Investigators are also looking to see if some of the suspects went to Syria, said the source, who wished to remain anonymous.

"This new raid takes place five days after the detention for similar motives of eight people in the Paris and Lyon (southeast) regions, of whom five were charged on Saturday, and four remanded in custody," Cazeneuve said in his statement.

Last month, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said 1,280 people were either in the process of leaving to wage jihad abroad, already on site, on their way back to France or already returned.

Altogether, according to Prime Minister Manuel Valls, authorities have to monitor nearly 3,000 people involved in "terrorist networks."

Meanwhile Moussa Coulibaly, the 30-year-old who attacked the soldiers in Nice, injuring two, has since been charged with attempted murder in connection with a terrorist operation.