German Police Arrest Two Radical Salafist Suspects in Raid

Media surround German special police as they enter their vehicle after a raid of an apartment building in the Wedding district in Berlin January 16, 2015. Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

German police said on Friday they had arrested two people following a raid on 12 homes and a mosque group linked to radical Islamic Salafists, shortly after Belgian police killed two men during similar raids against an Islamist group.

The arrests followed investigations which have been going on for several months into five Turkish citizens aged 31 to 44, who are suspected of "preparing a serious act of violence against the state in Syria" and money laundering, police said.

A police spokesman said the suspects were probably part of an extremist cell that had recruited fighters for Syria. Martin Steltner at the public prosecutors' office said the raids were unrelated to the Islamist militant attacks in Paris last week.

"It must be said very clearly that there is no connection to the attacks in Paris and there are no indications that attacks were planned in Germany," said Steltner.

Police said one of the men arrested was the leader of a group of Turkish and Russian citizens of Chechen and Dagestani origin who had radicalized the group through lessons on Islam while the other was responsible for the group's finances.

Some 250 police officers took part in the raid in Berlin.

Police said there were no indications that the group had been planning attacks in Germany.

Belgian police killed two men who opened fire on them during one of about a dozen raids on Thursday against an Islamist group that federal prosecutors said was about to launch "terrorist attacks on a grand scale".