PARIS (AFP) – Two men and a 16-year-old girl were charged in southern France on Tuesday on suspicion of planning a terror attack that the authorities believe was imminent, judicial sources said.
The three — arrested on Friday near the coastal city of Montpellier — were identified as Thomas Sauret, 20; his partner, a 16-year-old minor named only as Sarah; and Malik Hammami, 33.
They were indicted on Tuesday for “criminal association in connection with a criminal terrorist enterprise”, the sources said.
The case is being handled by anti-terrorism investigators, the sources said.
The three had been spotted several weeks earlier for using Telegram, an encrypted message system preferred by jihadists, they said.
Police swooped on Friday after the teenager pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in a video on social media and she and Sauret, both converts to Islam, bought acetone and hydrogen peroxide — precursors in an unstable, homemade explosive called TATP.
Police raided a flat in Clapiers, north of Montpellier, and found 71 grammes (2.5 ounces) of TATP, the sources said.
“An imminent terrorist act was being prepared,” Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said on Monday.
France remains on high alert after a wave of attacks that began two years ago, claiming more than 200 lives.
On February 3, a soldier shot and wounded a machete-wielding attacker who lunged at him outside the Louvre museum in Paris while shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest).
One of the most active members of the US-led coalition fighting IS, France has been the worst hit among European countries targeted by attacks claimed or inspired by the Sunni extremist group.
Parliament voted in December to extend a national state of emergency until July 15, after this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.