Group claims link to foiled German attacks-ministry

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BERLIN, Sept 11 (Reuters) A Sunni Muslim group affiliated to al Qaeda has said it was behind planned attacks in Germany that were foiled by police last week, Germany's Interior Ministry said today.

Officials had previously said three men arrested last week in connection with what security services said was a foiled plan to bomb US sites in Germany were members of the Islamic Jihad Union, which has its roots in Uzbekistan.

But today's announcement was the first time German officials have said the group itself had claimed involvement.

''In an appearance on the Internet the Islamic Jihad Union has claimed that it is connected to the attacks in Germany and arrests of Sept 4,'' said the ministry in a statement.

The statement gave no further details.

Officials had said last week the three men who were arrested -- two German converts to Islam and a Turk -- had trained in militant camps in Pakistan before forming a domestic cell of the Islamic Jihad Union.

The arrests came as part of the biggest German police investigation in the last 30 years.

The ministry said officials believed the claim was authentic and that it fitted in with their investigations.

''The acknowledgement emphasises the continuing threat of Islamist terrorism,'' said the ministry in its statement.

REUTERS RAR BST2330

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