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French Caribbean under state of emergency following Paris attacks
Three Syrians traveling with fake Greek passports are being held in the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Maarten, authorities said, while officials in the Central American nation of Honduras reported detaining a Syrian and two Pakistanis traveling by bus Saturday.
The St. Maarten public prosecutor's office said that the three Syrians were detained Nov. 14 and that an investigation was still trying to determine their identities and how and where they obtained the fake documents. Officials said they did not believe the Syrians are tied to any terrorist groups and had not asked for asylum.
Honduran officials said a Syrian woman and two Pakistanis were detained after they crossed into the country by bus from Nicaragua.
Police spokesman Anibal Baca told The Associated Press that authorities were looking for any links between the trio and five Syrian men who were detained in Honduras' capital Tuesday for traveling with passports allegedly stolen in Greece. Four of those five apparently were students.
Immigration officials were investigating to determine the validity of the travel documents presented by the three people detained Saturday, and the prosecutor's office said Interpol had been asked for help in checking their identities.
Kathya Rodriguez, director of immigration in Costa Rica, said the five Syrians held in Honduras did not appear to have any terrorist links. She said they entered Honduras from Costa Rica, after stops in Lebanon, Turkey, Brazil and Argentina.
In St. Maarten, prosecutor spokesman Norman Serphos told the AP that the three men being held there had arrived on an Insel Air flight from Haiti. Officials said the Syrians had traveled from Europe to Brazil, then gone to the Dominican Republic and Haiti before entering St. Maarten. It was unclear where they were headed.
Prosecutors said they had shared the information with Interpol and other international law enforcement agencies, including U.S. authorities.
Also this week, officials in Costa Rica detained a Syrian woman for allegedly traveling with falsified papers.
The state of emergency declared by France following the deadly terror attacks in Paris has been extended to Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte, Reunion Island, and St Martin and St Barths.
This means that lawmen will have the power to randomly stop the circulation of persons and install zones of protection and security and detain suspicious persons and their possessions.
They will also be able to ban meetings or demonstrations, order searches in houses day or night, give a compulsory order of residence to any persons whose behaviour or activity is deemed dangerous for security and public order, and order the submission of weapons and ammunition.
In making the announcement, French Minister of Overseas Territories George Pau-Langevin said the decision is justified and necessary for “coherence and reinforcement of security systems”.
— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) November 19, 2015
The emergency measure went into effect after at least 129 people were killed and more than 350 injured in last Friday’s coordinated attacks on Paris, which terrorist group, the Islamic State, has claimed responsibility.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has since warned that France was at risk of a chemical or biological weapons attack as legislators opened debate on extending the state of emergency for three more months.
The measure is used in “cases of imminent danger resulting from serious breaches of public order, or in case of events threatening, by their nature and gravity, public disaster”.