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Italy Arrests 3 on Suspicion of Terrorism - 2002-10-05

Three Egyptians are among the latest in a series of arrests by Italian authorities cracking down on alleged Islamic terrorists. The men were believed to have been planning an attack on the American cemetery in Nettuno, south of Rome.

Italian police say the three suspects were preparing to carry out a symbolic attack against the American cemetery. More than 7,000 U.S. soldiers killed during World War II are buried there.

The Egyptians, who were arrested Friday, are being held in a prison south of Rome, and will be questioned early next week, according to police authorities.

Police said their apartments were searched and that officers found explosives, a gun and a number of maps. The maps showed the Nettuno American Cemetery, Rome's international airport and a number of McDonald's restaurants.

Officials said the three men, aged between 35 and 45, held legal working papers for Italy. They claim to be fishermen, and say the explosives were used for fishing purposes. They have all denied any wrongdoing.

But Italian authorities believe the men have links to terrorism. They say police had been watching one of the men for some time.

Italy has clamped down heavily on suspected terrorists since the September 11 attacks in the United States last year. In the past year alone, it has arrested more than 40 people in its anti-terror drive.