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Paraguayan Police Detain 15 People of Arab Descent - 2001-09-21

Paraguayan police have detained at least 15 people of Arab descent as part of their investigation into possible links between the country's large Arab community and the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Anti-terrorism agents from the Paraguayan capital carried out the raid Friday in the city of Encarnacion, about 370 kilometers southeast of Asuncion.

They detained more than a dozen people of Lebanese descent along with several others from elsewhere in the Middle East.

An official at Paraguay's Police Anti-terrorism Department in Asuncion says most of those detained had false identity documents or no documents at all. Friday's raid was carried out on orders of a public prosecutor, Carlos Calcena, as part of ongoing investigations into possible links between Paraguay's large Arab community and last week's terrorist attacks in the United States.

Since the attacks, Paraguayan authorities have stepped up their vigilance of the Arab community, especially in the city of Ciudad del Este which is on the border with Argentina and Brazil.