French security services arrested an 18-year-old woman, along with her mother and three sisters, on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack on a church.
The General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI), France’s domestic security service, raided the teen’s home in Béziers on Saturday night. The investigation was sparked by the discovery of a social media post, which led police to believe the girl wanted to commit an act of terror in a Montpellier church during an Easter service.
During a search of the family home, investigators discovered chemicals used in bomb-making and instructions on how to manufacture explosive devices. They also found prepared devices, comprised of several bottles, filled with marbles and taped together, newspaper Le Parisien reports.
The raid also turned up material related to Islamic State and a sword, but it was not clear if the blade was linked to the foiled attack.
According to Le Parisien, the area in which the family lived, the Devèze district, is known to have a bad reputation. Neighbours described the family as being withdrawn, keeping to themselves.
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Shortly after the operation, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said: “Thank you to the DGSI and its agents who protect the French every day.”
The foiled attack comes months after a church in the city of Nice was targeted by a radical Islamic Tunisian illegal migrant who murdered three people and injured several others.
Christian churches and other places of worship have been targetted several times in the past by members and supporters of Islamic State, with one of the most brutal attacks taking place in July 2016 when two Islamists murdered Roman Catholic priest, Father Jacques Hamel.