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Friday, October 06, 2006

Extremists planned mass Prague murders -paper

PRAGUE, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Islamic extremists planned to kidnap dozens of Jews in Prague and hold them hostage before murdering them, the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes reported on Friday.

The Czech Republic's leading newspaper quoted unidentified sources close to intelligence agencies as saying the captives would have been held in a Prague synagogue while the captors made broad demands that they knew could not be fulfilled.

When those demands -- which were not specified by the sources -- were not met, the extremists would blow up the building, killing all who were inside, the paper added.

The paper, which gave other few details, did not say whether any arrests were made and did not specify the identities of the extremists.

On Sept. 23 the government deployed armed guards around dozens of buildings and on the streets in the Czech capital after security services issued a warning that an unspecified attack was imminent.

Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and government officials have since refused to divulge details of what kind of attack they feared in Prague.

"I am not authorised to provide any information in this case," the paper quoted Topolanek as saying when asked about the information given by the sources.

"Concurrent with the government decision, I only continue to insist that the measures and the extent of information supplied to the public were, and are in proportion to the information obtained (by intelligence officials) and to the threat."

The Czech Republic has a small military unit in Afghanistan and military police instructors in Iraq.

Prague's Old Town is the location for the Jewish Quarter where thousands of tourists -- many of them Jews -- flock to see centuries-old synagogues and graves.

The country's once-flourishing Jewish community was decimated during World War Two.

Prague has not been a target of terrorist attacks in the past, although strict security precautions were taken several years ago to protect the downtown headquarters of U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe.
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