France said on Monday it was deporting five Islamic militants and Muslim preachers in the latest show of strength by President Nicolas Sarkozy as he clamps down on radical elements after seven people were killed by an al Qaeda-inspired gunman last month.

Police commandos arrested suspected Islamic militants in raids on March 30 in several French cities including in the Toulouse region, where a Frenchman of Algerian descent went on a 10-day rampage killing seven people.

The attack turned internal security into a bigger campaign issue ahead of the April 22 election first round and may have improved Sarkozy's chances in a race in which he has lagged Socialist rival Francois Hollande.

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