EU jihadist arrests rise for third year - Europol

French army paratroopers patrol near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, in this picture taken on 30 March 2016. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption France is still under a state of emergency following jihadist attacks

The number of people arrested on suspicion of Islamist terrorism in the EU rose last year for the third year in a row, Europol says.

The European police force said 718 jihadist terror suspects were arrested, up from 687 in 2015 and 395 in 2014.

However, the number of jihadist attacks fell from 17 in 2015 to 13 in 2016, of which six were linked to so-called Islamic State (IS), a report said.

The report also noted a rise in violent assaults by right-wing groups.

In its annual EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report, Europol said that in 2016 there was a total of 142 "failed, foiled and completed attacks" reported by eight member states that included attacks by jihadists, nationalists and other groups.

It said 142 people died in terrorist attacks and 379 people were injured, and that nearly all fatalities and most of the injuries were caused by jihadists.

The EU's security commissioner, Julian King, said the figures reinforced the need for closer co-operation in intelligence sharing.

"Terrorists do not respect or recognise borders," he said.

Jihadist attacks in the EU in 2016 - key numbers:

  • 13 reported attacks: France - 5, Belgium and Germany - 4 each
  • 135 people killed
  • 718 suspected jihadists arrested, including 429 in France
  • 26% of those arrested were women

Source: EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report

The 62-page report also said that women were playing an increasing role in jihadist attacks.

"Female militant jihadists in the West perceive fewer obstacles to playing an operative role in a terrorist attack than men, and successful or prevented attacks carried out by women in Western countries may act as an inspiration to others," it said.

The report noted that the largest number of attacks last year were carried out by "ethno-nationalist and separatist extremists".

Attacks by left-wing extremists have been rising since 2014, the report said, reaching a total of 27 in 2016 of which 16 were reported by Italy.

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