Italian police arrested three Algerians yesterday who are suspected of being members of a group with links to al Qaeda, the government said.

The arrests were part of a nationwide police sweep in which 153 people were questioned and property was seized. The men are being held in the southern port city of Naples on suspicion of international terrorism and carrying false documents.

"During the seizures, several videotapes were taken which contained scenes of guerilla warfare and prisoner executions, as well as manuscripts with Al Qaeda-linked websites and instructions for making explosive devices," the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Magistrates believe the men arrested were part of a cell set up by the Algerian Salafist movement, which has links with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group, a police spokesman said

A phone tap recorded one member of the group saying: "We need to hit America with blood. With blood we will win," a source close to the investigation said.

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