© AFP | French police stand gaurd near the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Video by FRANCE 24
Text by FRANCE 24
Latest update : 2016-11-24
Police sources said Thursday that five terror suspects arrested over the weekend sought to target police and intelligence headquarters, the Disneyland Paris amusement park and the Champs-Elysées boulevard in an attack planned for December 1.
French authorities on Wednesday extended by 96 hours the detention of five men arrested over the weekend in connection with the planned attacks, which investigators now believe was intended to strike targets in and around Paris on December 1.
Police sources said that targets included the headquarters of France’s domestic intelligence agency (Direction générale de la sécurité intérieure or DGSI) in the northwestern Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret, the police offices at the Quai des Orfèvres and the nearby Palace of Justice.
Other targets included the Disneyland Paris amusement park 32 kilometres (20 miles) east of the city and the famed Champs-Elysées boulevard.
The information was collected from a smartphone belonging to one of the suspects taken into custody after simultaneous police swoops in the southern port city of Marseille and Strasbourg in northeast France last Saturday night.
Two other men also arrested in the raids have since been released.
France has been under a state of emergency since a wave of attacks last year, giving police wider powers, and the arrests come at a sensitive time ahead of next spring’s presidential elections in which security will be a major theme.
Officials are worried that the Islamic State group, which is fighting to defend territory it seized in Syria and Iraq, will call on its followers and jihadists returning from the region to increase attacks in the West.
More than 230 people have been killed in attacks on French soil since January 2015, including 130 in coordinated gun and suicide bomb strikes in Paris last November.
As part of sweeps against Islamist radicals, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Wednesday that his government had banned a Muslim charity suspected of financing jailed militants and radicals.
The charity, established in 2010 and called Sanabil, plans to contest the decision and rejected what Cazeneuve said of it, according to Sanabil lawyer Bruno Vinay.
The recent arrests were part of a long-running operation led by the DGSI, which included a wave of arrests last June on the eve of the Euro 2016 international soccer championship that France hosted.
That swoop concerned militant financing while last weekend’s arrests were related to potential gunmen, police sources said.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)