Montpellier: At least five people were arrested during a anti-jihadist operation in southern France that was still ongoing early today, a security source said.
The operation took place in the small town of Lunel east of Montpellier in southern France, from where around 20 young people have left for Syria. Six of them, aged 18 to 30, have been killed since October.
Crack French security forces launched the operation at 6:00 am local time in a building in the centre of the town, according to witnesses that spoke to AFP.
“Several unmarked cars drew up. Masked men got out and smashed in the doors to the apartments in the building,” said one resident of the block, who said they had threatened him.
“They put a gun to my head … in the end, they arrested my neighbour above me, Said,” said this witness.
Another witness said authorities had taken away his brother.
“They flattened me, got me on the floor, hit me. Then they took away my brother,” this man said.
French security sources have pointed to the small town of Lunel as a “recruitment network” for jihadists.
Some 1,400 people living in France have either joined the jihadist cause in Syria and Iraq or are planning to do so, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said earlier this month.
France has launched several raids targeting alleged jihadists after a trio of Islamist gunmen left 17 people dead in and around Paris in a three-day rampage earlier in January.