Five days before the presidential election, two men of 23 and 29, suspected of planning an “imminent” attack on French soil were arrested in Marseille. Firearms and equipment used in the manufacture of explosives were found during the search of their apartment.
Two men aged 23 and 29, suspected of preparing an “imminent” attack were arrested on Tuesday in Marseille, five days before the first round of the presidential election, we have learned from sources close to the investigation.
The two men were arrested by the DGSI as part of an open investigation being carried out since the 12th April in Paris for criminal association, terrorist conspiracy and violation of the gun laws in relation with a terrorist enterprise.
“They were planning to take action” in the next few days”, explained the Minister of Interior, Matthias Fekl, during a speech.
Offenders radicalized in prison
“The two men radicalized, born respectively in 1987 and 1993, and both French nationals, had intended to commit an attack in the very short term, that is to say in the next few days, an attack on French soil”, said the Minister of the Interior, with just five days to go for the first round of the presidential election.
Both suspects were actively sought since the end of last week and both have a profile as radicalized offenders in prison, says one police source. One of them is a convert.
A presidential candidate referred?
According to a report in the Parisien, the two men planned to attack one of the eleven candidates in the presidential election. The newspaper reports that investigators have found a video where the two suspects show their allegiance to Daech. In these images also appears the One of a French journal devoted to the elections with a picture of a candidate.
François Fillon security officers reported that they had been warned on Friday 14th April of “known risks” on the right-wing candidate in the presidential election.
The pictures of the two suspects had already been distributed for Thursday, April 13th to the contenders security services at the Elysee, said Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron.
Ongoing raids in Marseille
The investigations, “thanks to searches still underway, have provided evidence to materialize this terrorist planned attack” , said Mathias Fekl, without elaborating on the two suspects or targets.
Investigators found some firearm weapons and equipment used to manufacture explosives in the apartment for rental of the third arrondissement of Marseille where the two men were arrested between 10 am and 11 am. Operations are also underway by the Bomb Squad around this accommodation, searching for the presence of any further explosives.
“Challenges for the elections”
After the arrest of the two suspects, the head of state, François Hollande hailed a “remarkable result.” “ All I can say is that our services and our police worked remarkably allowing us to stop two people who will now be confronted before judges and police so that we know exactly what was their intentions”, he said.
“I really want to commend the work that has been led by the services and by the police”, he insisted. “Alas For several years, we are mobilized against terrorism and we make sure to be able to prevent, prevent a number of shares even if unfortunately we were struck as everyone knows”, also said François Hollande, adding that the prosecutor of Paris, François Molins, will give “all the details of the investigation” .
For its part, the candidate of En March!, Emmanuel Macron, extended his congratulations to all police departments. These events “are a reminder that the terrorist threat is still very high on our territory” , said the presidential candidate in a statement. Terrorism “is a threat to our country for many years and especially during the democratic exercise that we live at the moment […] It is a challenge that calls more than any other in the rally, because terrorists want nothing but our division “ , he held.
Enhanced security in the elections
“A few days of a major electoral event for our country, I want to remember that everything is done to ensure the safety of this major event for our democracy”, assured Matthias Fekl.
“The Interior Ministry services are totally more than ever mobilized around France to ensure the safety of the French, for the proper place of the presidential campaign, to ensure the safety meetings and gatherings, to ensure safety candidates and their campaign headquarters “, he said.
“More than 50 000 police officers, gendarmes and soldiers” will be made to ensure the security of the election, especially in the 67,000 polling stations, he recalled.