French authorities arrested 19 suspected Islamic militants and seized weapons in raids in Toulouse.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the Friday raids, conducted in the city where an Islamist militant gunned down four Jews outside a religious school last week, were necessary to safeguard the country’s security, according to news reports.
“It’s our duty to guarantee the security of the French people,” Sarkozy said. “We have no choice. It’s absolutely indispensable.”
The Toulouse gunman, Mohammed Merah, was reportedly known to French authorities and had been a subject of surveillance before the killings. He is also suspected in the earlier killing of three French soldiers. Merah died last week when police stormed his apartment after a prolonged standoff.