French police on Friday arrested 19 people described as radical Islamists as part of an operation targeting suspected jihadist networks in a number of cities. President Nicolas Sarkozy said in an interview with Europe1 radio that he was mounting a crackdown after self-proclaimed al Qaeda member Mohamed Merah killed seven people in the Toulouse area before being shot dead last week. Automatic weapons were found in the homes of some of those arrested in cities including Paris, Marseille, Nice, Nantes, and Toulouse. Sarkozy, who is running a highly contested reelection campaign, said the arrests were not related to Merah.
CRACKDOWN Jean-Sebastien Evrard, AFP / Newscom