FRANCE - Terrorism

French police arrest 15-year-old suspected of planning attack

Paris, file photo
Paris, file photo Reuters/Charles Platiau

French police arrested a 15-year-old boy on Saturday suspected of planning an attack, investigators said on Sunday. The teenager was arrested in eastern Paris and had been under house arrest since April for suspected links to Islamic extremists.

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The police suspect him of plotting "in response to calls from Syria to attack France," one of the sources said, just days after a separate plot to blow up a car packed with gas canisters was allegedly foiled in central Paris.

Investigators are looking into calls made by a French member of the so-called Islamic State armed group (IS), Rachid Kassim, for supporters of the group to strike French targets. The source said the 15-year-old had been in touch with Kassim using the encrypted messaging app Telegram.

Kassim has regularly appeared in IS propaganda videos calling for attacks on French targets. He has been linked to at least one of the two teen jihadists who executed an elderly priest in a Normandy church in July.

Appearing on French television on Sunday morning, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that around 15,000 people were known to police in France as having been radicalised, up from a previous estimate of 10,000.

Investigators believe IS operative Kassim had been in contact with one of the women arrested last week over a car found abandoned a week ago near Notre Dame cathedral, a major tourist draw in central Paris.

The car contained five gas cylinders, three bottles of diesel and a lit cigarette.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said the women were acting on orders coming from Syria. 

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