Early morning in Nantes, French police commandos raid one of several houses in France – in total, 19 people are arrested, suspected of radical Islamist activity.
Police also seized weapons including Kalashnikov assault rifles.
President Nicholas Sarkozy said more raids would follow to guarantee the safety of the French people.
[Nicolas Sarkozy, French President]:
“It is our duty to guarantee the security of the French people, we don’t have any choice, it’s absolutely necessary and it’s the first duty of a head of state to protect the French people.”
The raids come just over a week after al Qaeda-inspired gunman Mohamed Merah was killed by police snipers after shooting dead 3 Jewish children, a Rabbi and three French soldiers.
Sarkozy is fighting for re-election in this month’s presidential election.
Polls show his ratings have gone up with more than 70 percent of voters saying they approve his handling of the Merah affair.
His chief rival, Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande, is losing support to Sarkozy and the candidate for the Left Front Jean Luc Melenchon.
Police sources said that Friday’s swoops by the the RAID police commando unit and anti-terrorist specialists were not directly related to the investigation into Merah’s killing spree.