French authorities on Tuesday arrested seven men and a woman who are suspected of being linked to a network that has been sending French citizens to fight in Syria. However, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that those arrested were not suspected to be linked to the January attacks that killed 17 people in and around Paris, according to The Associated Press (AP).
Three of the suspects, who were arrested from Paris and Lyon on Tuesday, had returned to France from Syria in December 2014, but it was not clear whether they had joined any local militant organizations. The network to which they are suspected to belong began sending people to Syria in May 2013, AP reported, adding that the group did not appear to be involved in any plot.
"They are now in the hands of the police. It is a Syria issue," an official at the Paris prosecutor's office said, according to Reuters, which added that the suspects could be held for up to 96 hours without a charge.
France, along with other European countries, is trying to curb the growing influence of extremists who have been radicalized after they left the country to join extremists, mostly in Iraq and Syria, AP reported. Authorities have ramped up security in the country since the Paris attacks last month, and have arrested dozens of people who have reportedly defended terrorism and are suspected to be linked to militant organizations.
Last month, police officials questioned an eight-year-old boy in Nice in southern France, because he made comments implying solidarity with the gunmen who attacked the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.