Threatening letters

A police official said investigations had turned up letters sent to supermarkets in the region near Toulouse that threatened bomb attacks.

The interior ministry said police investigators had monitored the suspects for months.

It said the nine arrested in southwestern France were all from the region, and were "suspected of having links with the terrorist organisation al-Qaeda".

Judicial officials said the arrests were not officially part of a French judicial investigation into al-Qaeda recruiting networks for Iraq opened in 2005.