Two men have been arrested in Marseille on suspicion of preparing an “imminent” attack, five days before France’s presidential election.
The suspects are “known [to authorities] for being radicalised”, according to a source close to the investigation, who said the two men picked up extreme views while serving prison sentences for crimes that were unrelated to terrorism.
Aged 23 and 29, the two men were detained by elite police and domestic intelligence agents after a search that had lasted several days.
Handguns, materials frequently used to make explosives, and “long weapons” — a term which most commonly refers to rifles, were discovered by police according to Le Point.
Midi Libre reports that the suspects fought for Islamic State in Syria, and were planning to attack the headquarters of one of the presidential candidates.
Interior Minister Matthias Fekl neglected to disclose the suspects’ target. But Front National candidate Marine Le Pen and the entourage of globalist former investment banker Emmanuel Macron – dubbed the election’s ‘centrist’ candidate – said their respective security teams received photographs of the two men on Thursday.
The security staff of candidate François Fillon were warned Friday of “definite risks”, sources from the Republicans announced. They added there were significant fears surrounding the centre-right candidate’s appearance in Nice on Monday.
France’s DGSI intelligence service is said to suspect the two men arrested of plotting an attack to coincide with the election.
“They had the aim of committing in the very short term, in other words in the very next days, an attack on French soil,” said the nation’s interior minister.
Current President François Hollande praised the operation for catching the two men as “remarkable”. Speaking in Le Creusot, he said: “All I can say is that our services and police officers are going to determine exactly what [the suspects’] intentions were.”
France remains under a state of emergency after a spate of attacks by Islamic extremists have claimed hundreds of lives in recent years.