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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 24 April 2018

Italy arrests five suspected ISIL supporters 

The arrests come as Italy steps up efforts aimed at targeting suspected extremists

Italian police said that Elmahdi Halili had been planning to use trucks for attacks and seeking 'lone wolves' to carry them out. Alessandro Di Marco / EPA
Italian police said that Elmahdi Halili had been planning to use trucks for attacks and seeking 'lone wolves' to carry them out. Alessandro Di Marco / EPA

Italian police on Thursday arrested five people as part of a major operation against suspected supporters of ISIL around Rome.

The swoop is the latest in a series of similar raids this month, coming as Italy steps up the number of foreigners it expels.

"A vast antiterrorism operation" was being carried out by special investigation forces in Rome and the nearby town of Latina, police said in a statement on Thursday.

The five men are suspected of having links to Anis Amri, the Tunisian who carried out the 2016 Berlin Christmas market truck attack and was later killed in a shoot-out with police in Italy.

In a tweet on Thursday, the Italian police said one of the five was believed to have procured fake Italian identity papers that allowed Amri, a failed asylum seeker, to move around Europe.

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German police detain Tunisian with links to Berlin attacker

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Amri killed 12 people when he hijacked a truck and drove it into a crowded Berlin Christmas market in December 2016. The attack was later claimed by the insurgents. Using fake documents, he later fled to Italy and died in a shoot-out with police near Milan four days later.

On Wednesday antiterrorism police arrested an Italian citizen of Moroccan origin who they said was an ISIL sympathiser planning a truck attack.

Interior Minister Marco Minniti said on Wednesday the security threat to Italy from ISIL supporters was higher than ever because more foreign fighters were attempting to return to Europe via Italy after the insurgents suffered defeats in Syria and Iraq.

So far this year, 29 foreigners, mostly Muslim, have been expelled from Italy as suspected threats to national security.