PARIS, March 3 (Xinhuanet) -- A previously unknown group calling itself AZF has threatened to blow up France's SNCF state railway if it can't be satisfied with a ransom of five million US dollars (four million euros), officials said Wednesday.
The group had sent letters to
President Jacques Chirac and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, warning that
several bombs had been planted in different railways and timed to explode on
different dates, police sources said.
"These supposed terrorists are asking us to hand over
a sum of money, around four million euros," Michel Gaudin, director generalof
the national police, told LCI television. "We have discovered abomb that could
be dangerous," he added.
On Feb. 21, the police found one sophisticated time
bomb under rails near Limoges between Paris and Toulouse following hints by the
While French media are focused on the possible
incentive of theblackmail, Gaudin indicated, "I do not think this is a group
linked to Islamic radicalism." He also rejected the allegation thegroup is
connected with Chechen terrorist movement.
Europe 1 radio said the group called itself "secular
terrorists", but the police believed they were criminals trying to
Gaudin said the police had only "a very, very brief
telephone contact" with the group.
An explosion at the AZF chemical factory in Toulouse
in September 2001 killed 30 people and injured more than 2,000. An investigation
into the causes of the blast is still going on. Enditem