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FRANCE - SYRIa

France arrests man planning IS-linked attack on naval base

The naval base of Toulon
The naval base of Toulon wikimedia/cc by Jesfr

French police have arrested a man who was plotting to attack sailors at the French naval base of Toulon. He has admitted being in contact with a French member of the Islamic State (IS) armed group in Syria who urged him to act.

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The 25-year-old man was detained last month and charged on 2 November, police and judicial sources said on Tuesday, confirming a report on French television.

He was already being watched by security agencies because of his public support for jihadist ideas and had tried to travel to Syria in October and December last year.

They discovered his plan after he had a parcel containing a combat knife and a mask delivered.

Click for RFI reports of the Charlie Hebdo killings

Under questioning he admitted to planning to attack sailors in Toulon, where 70 per cent of the French fleet is docked and 20,000 military and civilian personnel are based, although he had not yet worked out details of how to do so.

He also admitted being in touch with the French IS member in Syria, who, one source says, had been held for several months for making violent threats against Charlie Hebdo magazine in 2012.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve hailed the "efficiency" of anti-terror services, adding that they have questioned 370 people.

More than 500 French nationals or residents are fighting with IS in Syria and Iraq, according to official figures, while 250 have returned and about 750 have expressed a wish to go.

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