MS Risk Blog

France Arrests Two for Planning “Violent” Attack Ahead of Presidential Election

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France’s interior minister disclosed yesterday that two Frenchmen were arrested in Marseille on Tuesday, adding that they were planning an “imminent and violent attack” ahead of the first round of the presidential election on Sunday 23 April.

Speaking at a news conference, Interior Minister Matthias Fekl disclosed that “these two radicalized men…intended to commit in the very short-term – by that I mean in the coming days – an attack on French soil,” adding that a “definite terrorist act” had been foiled. The two men – who have been named as 23-year-old Clement Baur and 30-year-old Mahiedine Merabet – were seized in the southern port city a few moments apart from each other on Tuesday morning. Local mayor Lisette Narducci has disclosed that explosives had ben found after a search of an apartment near Marseille’s largest train station. Sources close to the investigation have also divulged that at least two assault weapons had been found. Neither the interior minister nor police have given nay precise details of what attacks the pair had been planning and whether they were intending to target one o more of the election candidates. Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, one of the foremost candidates, is scheduled to hold the last big rally of her campaign in Marseille this week, according to he programme.

Campaign officials have reported that France’s internal intelligence agency, which had been looking for the two suspects for more than a week, had warned main candidate in the election that there was a threat to their security. Comments made by officials indicate that candidates Francois Fillon, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, who are the three leading contenders, wer amongst those warned of a security risk.

France is due to go to the polls on 23 April, with a second round to take place on 7 May, in what is one of the most unpredictable elections in its modern history. Security has been a key campaigning issue after attacks by militant Islamists have killed more than 230 people in the past two years.

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