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In Paris, first arrest of Islamist suspects since start of Mali war

Three of the four men arrested on Tuesday were Franco-Congolese and one was Malian, according to police sources.

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French police arrested four suspected Islamist militants near Paris today as part of an investigation into the recruitment of volunteers by Al Qaeda insurgents in Mali, French interior minister Manuel Valls said.

France's intervention in Mali to rid its former colony of Islamist fighters has prompted the authorities to increase security against possible reprisal attacks on its interests in mainland France and abroad.

Anti-terrorism judge Marc Trevidic, who is in charge of the operation, and who is known for an independent streak among French jurists, told Reuters last month that France needed more robust local policing, better intelligence sharing and the ability to infiltrate small radical Islamist groups if it hopes to fight new security threats on its soil.

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Analysts say the insurgency that seized the north of Mali is paving the way for attacks on France as more French Muslims of African origin are supposedly energized or finding a cause or grievance in the conflict.

"France is really being singled out at the moment," said Anne Giudicelli, consultant with national security specialists Terrorisc.

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