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France says terrorist cell planned trip to Syria

PARIS — A network of French Islamists behind a grenade attack on a kosher market also planned to join jihadists fighting in Syria, a state prosecutor said Thursday, calling the suspected terrorist group potentially the most dangerous established in France since the 1990s.

Five of the 12 people arrested in sweeps in cities around France have been freed, said the prosecutor, Francois Molins. He said seven people remain in custody a day after police discovered bomb-making materials in an underground parking lot as part of a probe of an ‘‘extremely dangerous terrorist cell.’’ The seven, aged 19 to 25 years old, were all born in France, he said.

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The Sept. 19 attack on the market in Sarcelles, outside Paris, shattered windows and injured a customer at the store. It has revived French concerns that home-grown Islamic militants want to link with international jihad and carry out terrorism in France — this time, notably, against Jewish targets.

‘‘The intent was to kill,’’ Molins said. ‘‘It was just lucky that it [the attack] didn’t have the consequences desired by the culprits.’’ He noted that despite five days of questioning, when those held were mostly uncooperative, it was not clear whether the two culprits of the attack were in custody.

Nonetheless, the prosecutor hailed ‘‘the dismantling of a terrorist group that is probably the most dangerous brought to light in France since 1996.’’ Back then, Islamist militants linked to a bloody insurrection in former French colony Algeria carried out a series of bombings in France.

‘‘We aren’t underestimating either the internal or the external threat,’’ French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said in an interview with Europe 1 radio.

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