France arrests 19 in Toulouse raids

(JTA) — French authorities arrested 19 suspected Islamic militants and seized weapons in raids in Toulouse.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the raids last Friday, which were conducted in the city where an Islamist militant gunned down four Jews outside a religious school last week, were necessary to safeguard the country’s security, according to news reports.

"It’s our duty to guarantee the security of the French people," Sarkozy said. "We have no choice. It’s absolutely indispensable."

The Toulouse gunman, Mohammed Merah, reportedly was known to French authorities and had been the subject of surveillance before the killings. He also said he killed three French soldiers. Merah wash shot dead last week when police stormed his apartment following a prolonged standoff.

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