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Paris attack suspects seized

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PARIS, France (CNN) -- Four people have been detained in Paris in connection with a planned attack on the U.S. Embassy and other U.S. targets in France, police say.

The French television station, LCI, showed masked police officers, several with dogs, raiding a home in the darkness of early Tuesday morning.

French authorities opened the probe into whether U.S. interests in France were under threat from attacks the day before suicide hijackers smashed planes into New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Counter-intelligence officers apprehended a further eight people last Friday, acting on orders of magistrates probing threats made against U.S. interests, and are being questioned.

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French authorities have confirmed the U.S. Embassy in Paris was among the possible targets.

The arrests last Friday were made after a man identified as Djamel Begal, being held in the United Arab Emirates, was alleged to have confessed to planning an attack on the U.S. Embassy in France and gave names and addresses of extremists living in Paris, police sources said.

At least one of the suspects in France had been in contact with Begal, and others had been under police surveillance since his arrest in July, the sources said.

They were arrested in the Val d'Oise region north of Paris and the Essonne region to the south.

Under French law, authorities may hold terrorism suspects for a maximum of 96 hours without pressing charges, meaning the detention of those arrested Friday will expire on Tuesday.

Since the attacks on Washington and New York an international investigation has swung into action focusing on Osama bin Laden -- the suspected mastermind behind the strikes -- his associates and financial network.

Police and security forces have also been pouring over previously innocuous crimes. Italian police have reopened investigations into the theft of an American Airlines uniform from a Rome hotel.

In Europe arrests have been made in Germany, the UK, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands. Further arrests have been made in the U.S. and Canada.

• Arrests made in Europe and U.S.
September 21, 2001
• French arrest suspected extremists
September 21, 2001
• Bin Laden assets targeted
September 24, 2001

• French National Gendarmerie

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