Italy arrests 5 Tunisians in anti-terror raids tied to Berlin Christmas market attack probe

Five Tunisians suspected of belonging to a terror network have been arrested. Italy has been swooping in on suspected terror networks in recent weeks amid heightened concern of an attack.

Italian police on Thursday arrested five Tunisians suspected of being part of a terror network tied to Anis Amri, who killed 12 people in a truck ramming attack at a Berlin Christmas market in December 2016.

Amri, a rejected asylum seeker from Tunisia, was shot and killed by police in Milan four days after the Berlin attack claimed by the "Islamic State."

One of the five Tunisian nationals arrested in the city of Latina, south of Rome, is suspected of having planned to provide false documents to get Amri out of Italy, police said.

Read more: Germany: How do terrorist groups compare?

In the wake of the Berlin attack, German authorities came faced intense criticism after it emerged Amri used multiple fake documents and should have been deported to Tunisia.

The anti-terror raids were carried out in Rome, Latina, Naples and other cities.

Reuters cited security forces as saying that the five Tunisians were not suspected of directly participating in the Berlin truck attack, nor were they imminently preparing one in Italy.

Italian authorities have carried out numerous counterterrorism operations this month, including one on Wednesday that led to the arrest of an Italian citizen of Moroccan origin suspected of planning a knife attack or truck ramming.

On Tuesday, police arrested what they said was a radical Islamic preacher indoctrinating young children in Foggia.

Interior Minister Marco Minniti has put security service on high alert for potential terror plots targeting tourist hotspots and other busy areas.

Related Subjects

Italy is one of the few major European countries to be spared a large-scale terror attack in recent years.

cw/kms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

Terror attacks in France since 2015

December 11, 2018: Strasbourg shooting

A gunman opened fire at a Christmas market in the eastern city of Strasbourg, home to the European Parliament. At least two people were killed and 12 injured. Prosecutors opened a terror investigation. France immediately raised its national security alert to its highest level in anticipation of copycat attacks.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

May 12, 2018: Paris knife attack

A man wielding a knife attacks bystanders in a central neighborhood in Paris, killing one person and wounding another four. French prosecutors open a terror probe into the attack, citing witness accounts that the assailant shouted "Allahu akbar" ("God is greatest"). The militant "Islamic State" (IS) group claims responsibility for the attack, calling the knifeman one of their "soldiers."

Terror attacks in France since 2015

March 23, 2018: Trebes hostage crisis

An attacker claiming allegiance to IS perpetrates a string of violent crimes in the southern town of Trebes during the morning hours. He kills a man while stealing a car and then fires shots at police officers before entering a Super U grocery store, where he takes hostages. Police shoot dead the attacker. Four people are killed, including including policeman Arnaud Beltrame.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

October 1, 2017: Marseille train station knife attack

A man fatally stabs two women at the Marseille train station. The perpetrator, Ahmed Hanachi, is shot dead by police on patrol. IS claims responsibility for the attack in a post by its news agency Amaq. In it, they call Hanachi one of the group's "soldiers." Two Interior Ministry officials resign after it is revealed that Hanachi was an undocumented immigrant who they had failed to detain.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

April 20, 2017: Champs-Elysees police shooting

A gunman opens fire on police on the Champs-Elysees, Paris' most iconic boulevard. One police officer is killed and two individuals are injured before police shoot the gunman dead. A note praising IS is found next to the gunman's body. The terrorist group also claims responsibility. The attack occurs just days before the first round of the French presidential election. Security is tightened.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

February 3, 2017: Machete attempt at Louvre

Soldiers shoot and severely injure a knife-wielding man outside the Louvre museum in Paris after he assails them. One soldier is lightly injured. The attacker had two further machetes in his backpack. A subsequent investigation reveals the Egyptian national had traveled to France from Dubai on a valid tourist visa. A Twitter account associated with the man's name refers to IS in posts.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

July 26, 2016: Murder of Normandy priest

Two teens enter a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy and slit the throat of an 85-year-old priest in front of five parishioners. Police shoot the 19-year-olds dead as they try to leave. IS takes responsibility and publishes a video of the teens pledging allegiance to the group. Many French Muslims attend the next Sunday's Mass to show solidarity with Catholics and condemn the attack.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

July 14, 2016: Truck attack in Nice

On Bastille Day, France's national holiday, a truck drives through crowds in Nice that had gathered to watch the fireworks on a major seaside promenade. Before being shot dead by police, the driver kills 86 and injuries more than 400 others. IS claims responsibility, stating that the attacker had responded to IS calls to target civilians living in coalition nations fighting IS in Syria and Iraq.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

November 13, 2015: Paris attacks

France's most deadly terror attack: IS jihadis armed with automatic weapons and explosives undertake coordinated attacks in Paris including at the Bataclan concert hall, the national stadium and various street cafes. The mass shootings and suicide bombings kill 130 people, injuring hundreds more. IS claims responsibility. Then-President Francois Hollande calls it an act of war by IS.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

August 21, 2015: Thalys train tragedy averted

A deadly attack is averted: On a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris, a man opens fire with an assault rifle that subsequently jams. Other train passengers tackle the man, preventing deadly violence. Four are injured including the attacker. The assailant had been known to French security officials for past drug-related activities and statements in defense of radical Islamist violence.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

June 26, 2015: Beheading, truck explosion near Lyon

Yassin Salhi beheads his boss and displays the head, along with two Islamic flags, on the gate outside a gas plant near Lyon. He also tries to blow up the factory by driving his van into the gas cylinders. The attempt fails, but unleashes a smaller explosion, injuring two. French authorities claim links between the man and IS. He commits suicide in prison.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

January 7-9, 2015: Charlie Hebdo, Jewish supermarket attack

Two men with automatic guns storm the offices of satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 and wounding 12 others. A different gunman kills a police officer the next day, then four more during a hostage-taking on January 9 at a kosher grocery. Police eventually shoot all three gunmen dead, but not before they claim allegiance to IS and al-Qaida.

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