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Italian police arrest four in security raids

Written by: Staff

ROME, Mar 25 (Reuters) Italian police staged a nationwide series of raids on suspected Islamic militants, checking the papers of 289 people and arresting four men, police said today.

The operation, yesterday, covered 46 provinces across Italy, and took place two weeks before a general election, at a time when the country is on higher than usual alert for terrorist threats.

Police said in a statement they had carried out ''checks on the most extreme elements of radical Islam present in Italy''.

''The operation concerned individuals already involved to various extents in investigations and led to the sequester of copious documentation which is now in the hands of the investigators.'' It did not say whether the four men arrested would be charged with a crime.

Earlier this week, the US State Department warned its citizens to be aware Italy was ''under heightened public threat by al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists'' because of its military role in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On March 11, 2004, Islamist militants killed 191 people in bomb attacks in Madrid just three days before elections in Spain -- which at the time also had troops in Iraq.

Reuters KD BD2035

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