PARIS (AP) – French police yesterday detained seven suspected Islamic militants with possible ties to the so-called “shoe bomber” – the third anti-terrorism sweep in France in four days.

Police have arrested 18 people since Saturday, including an Islamic militant who escaped from a Dutch jail. The interior minister described the arrest of another suspect as “very important” for the fight against terrorism.

The push by anti-terrorism investigators comes amid mounting fears of terror attacks in western Europe.

In the latest word of caution, Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said in an interview published yesterday that France “is among the countries most threatened.”

Anti-terrorism judges Jean-Louis Bruguiere and Jean-Francois Ricard put out orders for the pre-dawn arrests yesterday of six Algerians and Pakistanis, picked up in the Paris suburbs of Montreuil and Garges-les-Gonesse, police said. Among those detained was an imam at a mosque north of Paris.

A seventh suspect who used to run a Paris prayer hall was picked up on Reunion island, a French territory in the Indian Ocean.

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