French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has confirmed that authorities had detained four Muslims this week in connection with planned terrorist attacks in the country.
France.24 President François Hollande earlier revealed that security forces had “foiled” the attacks. “This week, we stopped Islamic terrorist attacks which could have taken place,” Hollande said, without giving further details.
Cazeneuve announced that four men, aged between 16 and 23, were arrested in different parts of France on Monday as part of a counter-terrorist operation.
The minister said the four Muslim suspects planned to attack French military installations. He added that the main plotter had been identified by his attempts to leave the country for war-torn Syria and contact with known French jihadists currently in prison.
Cazeneuve said authorities had not immediately established a link between the four men under arrest and an arson attack on a petrochemical plant in southern France early on Tuesday.
Just a week ago, explosives and detonators were stolen in a French military base heist.
Chicago Tribune French authorities are investigating the theft of roughly 200 detonators plus grenades and plastic explosives from a military site in southeastern France, officials said Tuesday.
The thefts at the Miramas site, which is operated by a combination of military services west of Marseille, appeared to have occurred overnight from Sunday to Monday. The break-in comes as France has strengthened its security measures after two deadly attacks by Muslim extremists this year.
An official with the gendarmerie police force, which generally runs law enforcement in more rural areas of France, said the thief or thieves appeared to have cut through a fence to enter the high-security site. The official was not authorized to speak publicly because the operation is ongoing.
Mayor Frederic Vigouroux of Miramas told the AP he did not know precisely what was stolen, but said “It wasn’t cotton candy that was stolen,” he said. “These are dangerous munitions. Everything is inherently dangerous.”
France has been on its highest level of alert for Islamic terrorism following deadly attacks in January and June.