October 31, 2014 / 12:44 PM / 5 years ago

Three Iraqis arrested in Switzerland, suspected of planning attack

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss authorities said on Friday they had arrested three Iraqi citizens in March who are suspected of providing support to Islamic State and planning an attack in Europe.

The three are also suspected of using explosives and toxic gases with criminal intent, of pornography offences and encouraging illegal access to and from Switzerland, the Swiss public prosecutor said a statement.

The trio, who were not named and have not yet been charged, are still in detention while investigations continue.

Switzerland has sought assistance from European authorities, the prosecutors said. A joint investigation team comprising officers from Switzerland’s Federal Criminal Police and the U.S. FBI had also been set up, they said — a first of its kind since the two countries signed a cooperation pact in 2006.

“No further details relating to this particular criminal investigation can be provided for operational reasons,” the prosecutors’ statement said.

The three arrests were reported last month by Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, but the Swiss authorities said they were only confirming the story now so as not to jeopardize the ongoing enquiries.

Earlier this month, the government banned any Islamic State activities in Switzerland and outlawed any form of support for the militant organization, such as fundraising or recruitment.

The radical Sunni Muslim group has seized a swathe of territory stretching across Iraq and Syria in recent months, declaring an Islamic “caliphate” straddling the two nations.

Reporting by Joshua Franklin; Editing by Crispian Balmer

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