French security forces have raided a small town in the south that is known as a center for the jihadi recruiting networks that have sent hundreds of French youths to fighting in Syria and Iraq.

The raid in the town of Lunel began around dawn on Tuesday. At least six young people from the town of about 27,000 have died in Iraq and Syria in recent months. In December the head of the local Muslim union, who also manages a mosque there, refused to condemn the 10 departures and accused President Francois Hollande of acting as a jihadi recruiter.

Two French officials confirmed the raid, speaking on condition of anonymity because the operation was developing, but did not immediately have the number of people arrested in Lunel.