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France Arrests 2 Men in Terrorist Plot


French authorities are questioning two men suspected of plotting a serious terror attack in France. The incident comes after a series of heightened warnings including one by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

In an interview on French television Thursday morning, Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said two men were being questioned on suspicions of terrorist activity after being detained the day before outside Paris.

Hortefeux says the men are brothers of French nationality. He says they are suspected of plotting a serious terrorist attack on French soil.

In September, France notched up its terrorist alert to reinforced red - its second highest of four levels - following a series of warnings and threats.

Last week, the television network al Jazeera broadcast an audiotape apparently by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, warning France it would face killings and kidnappings if it did not withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. The recording also took issue with a new French law banning veils that cover the face.

Hortefeux says the audiotape was almost certainly authentic and it represents the first time al-Qaida had exclusively targeted France.

There have been other recent, and more general, threats, including packaged explosives heading to the United States.
In addition, booby-trapped packages have been found in Greece, including one addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Greek authorities suspect they are the work of anarchists.

On Wednesday, the French government announced tougher security checks on airline passengers traveling to France.

Hortefeux says 85 people have been questioned so far this year on terrorist suspicions. About 27 are in jail.

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