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Explosives Found In Paris After Afghanistan Warning


PARIS (Reuters) -- Explosives have been found in a central Paris department store following a tip-off from a group demanding the withdrawal of French troops from Afghanistan, a spokesman at the Paris Prosecutor's Office said.

The group called itself the Afghan Revolutionary Front and was not previously known to police.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, speaking in the eastern French city of Strasbourg, urged caution but said France would not negotiate with terrorists.

"At this point in time, I would call on everyone to be very prudent and very moderate," he said.

The five sticks of explosives did not have detonators attached and the spokesman for the Prosecutor's Office said French antiterrorist police thought the devices had been placed as a warning.

The tip-off was sent to a French news agency by letter. It said the explosives were in the men's lavatories on the third floor of the Printemps store in the city center.

The area is dotted with big department stores that are normally packed with Christmas shoppers at this time of year.

French Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said the explosives were "relatively old" and had been hidden in the cistern of one of the lavatories.

"The explosives had not been primed which indicates there was no risk of explosion," she told reporters outside the store on Boulevard Haussmann.

France has some 2,600 troops stationed in Afghanistan and has received threats of terrorist attacks in mainland France unless it removes the soldiers.