Madrid blasts suspect 'not planning Paris attack'

10th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 10 (AFP) - French police on Thursday discounted reports that a man arrested in Italy on suspicion of master-minding the March 11 bombings on four trains in Madrid was also planning an attack on the Paris underground rail network.

PARIS, June 10 (AFP) - French police on Thursday discounted reports that a man arrested in Italy on suspicion of master-minding the March 11 bombings on four trains in Madrid was also planning an attack on the Paris underground rail network.

The Italian news agency Ansa said on Wednesday that Italian intelligence officials had intercepted a telephone conversation between Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, known as "Mohammed the Egyptian" and a Belgian man identified only as "Mourad" on May 29, before they were arrested.

Ahmed pressed "Mourad" for information of the city of Paris and its underground train system, the metro, placing particular emphasis on checks and inspections, the report said.

In a statement, Paris police said "Mohammed the Egyptian" was not planning an attack on the metro.

"The information coming from Italy after the arrest of Mohammed the Egyptian has been carefully analysed by specialised services. It turns out that this group was not preparing an attack on the Paris metro," the statement said.

A French interior ministry spokesman said Wednesday that nothing in the Ansa report pointed to a planned attack on Paris.Ahmed, 32, was one of three people arrested in Italy as part of swoops coordinated with Spain and Belgium on suspicion of planning the March 11 Madrid train bombings in which 191 people were killed.

Belgian police said they had detained a total of 15 people acting on a tip-off from Italian anti-terrorist counterparts. Seven were later released, and four were placed under formal arrest on suspicion of "participation in acts preparatory to attacks".

One of the investigating magistrates in Italy, Armando Spataro, told AFP Wednesday that he could not confirm that a threat against Paris and its metro existed, adding that he considered the references "a matter of interpretation."

© AFP

Subject: French news

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