Terror update: France prevents double attack as man charged over Spanish killing spree
France has confirmed it has foiled two terror attacks already in 2018.
A leading sports team and the armed forces were the intended targets, the country’s Interior Minister Gerard Collomb has revealed.
According to official figures, 20 attacks were foiled in France last year.
Last November President Emmanuel Macron signed a sweeping counter-terrorism law to replace the state of emergency which had been in place almost two years since the 2015 Paris attacks that killed 130 people – the so-called Islamic State group (Daesh) hitting the Bataclan concert hall, Paris bars and the Stade de France football stadium.
In January of that year, two French jihadists who had sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda killed 11 people at the Paris office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
A total of three people were killed in two attacks in France last year claimed by Daesh – one in April on the Champs-Elysées and another in October at a railway station in the southern city of Marseilles.
The French capital remains on its highest possible level of alert.
“Since January 1, we have foiled two planned attacks which had not been totally finalised but a number of people were in the process of trying to execute them,” Mr Collomb announced.
One was “in the east” of the country and the other “in the west”, he said. One of them was planned against a “big sports team” where “young people were targeted”, and the other the armed forces.
He said the police had followed a number of people who were suspected Islamists and detained them.
“That is how we were able to thwart” these plots, Mr Collomb added – declining to give further details as to the location of those held or the planned targets.
Meanwhile, a man has been charged in France over alleged links to a suspect in last year’s deadly jihadist attacks in Barcelona and a nearby seaside resort.
The man, in his early 30s, was detained on February 20 in the south western town of Albi on suspicion of links to Moroccan Driss Oukabir, alleged to have rented the van used in the Barcelona attack.
A total of 16 people were killed when a van ploughed into crowds on the popular Las Ramblas boulevard in the heart of Barcelona and in a knife attack in the nearby resort of Cambrils last August.
Further investigations will determine the nature of links the suspect had with Oukabir, who was arrested shortly after attacks which were claimed by Daesh.
Two other men who were detained at the same time have been released without charge.
The arrests were made during a joint operation with French and Spanish officers in the south and south west of France.
The identity papers of Oukabir were allegedly used to hire the van used in the Barcelona attack and driven by Younes Abouyaaqoub, who was shot dead by police along with four accomplices after an attack the following day in the coastal town of Cambrils.