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Police smash 'bomb vest' kidnap ring

Police have smashed a gang which used fake bomb vests in the kidnapping of 21 businessmen in France and Luxembourg to raise over three million euros in ransom, Spanish police, which took part in the operation, said Sunday. Eight suspects, including the ring's suspected leader who had escaped from a French jail last year, were detained in Spain and another eight were arrested in France, Spanish police said in a statement.

Spain, France arrest three suspected Chechen militants

MADRID, March 1 (Reuters) - Spanish and French authorities arrested three suspected Chechen Islamist militants linked to a cell that planned to carry out attacks in Europe, Spain's Interior Ministry said on Friday. Agents from France's secret service arrested the trio on Tuesday as part of a joint French-Spanish operation. The Interior Ministry said the detainees were linked to an al Qaeda cell in the southern Spanish city of La Linea de la Concepcion that was broken up in August.

Spain court jails man suspected of Islamist attack plots

A suspected Islamist detained last week for allegedly plotting terrorist attacks in Spain and elsewhere in Europe was remanded in custody on Monday, a court official said. Police detained Mohamed Echaabi, a 22-year-old Moroccan, on Thursday in the eastern city of Valencia. Spanish authorities said Echaabi had the same profile as Mohamed Merah, a French Algerian who shot dead seven people last year, including three children in a Jewish school in Toulouse.

Spanish regions angry at "provocative" defence minister speech

By Clare Kane MADRID, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Two Spanish regions with strong independence movements reacted angrily on Monday to a speech by the country's defence minister that said the military was prepared and calm in the face of "absurd provocations". Defence Minister Pedro Morenes made the comments at Spain's annual Epiphany military parade on Sunday, provoking reaction from politicians in Catalonia, where leaders are moving towards a referendum on independence from Spain, and the Basque Country.
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