Thursday 22 March 2018

Three women arrested after gas canisters found near Notre Dame in Paris

The car was found parked near Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, police said (AP)
The car was found parked near Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, police said (AP)

Three women have been detained by police in France after a violent stand-off in a terrorism investigation into six gas canisters found in a car abandoned near Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral.

The discovery of the car has revived worries about the threat of new attacks in France, already repeatedly targeted by Islamic State extremists. Seven people are now in custody in the Notre Dame case, including those with links to radical Islam.

In the Thursday night operation in Boussy-Saint-Antoine, one of the women attacked police, and one suspect and one police officer were injured, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters.

"France is confronted with a terrorist threat of unprecedented scale," Mr Cazeneuve said. "It requires the vigilance of all our compatriots."

The Paris prosecutor's office said on Thursday that police arrested a couple - a 27-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman - a day earlier in the Loiret region of France, south of Paris.

A second couple - a 34-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman - were detained in the same case on Tuesday.

The two men, who are brothers, and the two women were transferred to Paris to be questioned by investigators trained in counter-terrorism. The prosecutor's office said all four are suspected of links to "radical Islamism".

Authorities are allowed to hold terror suspects for up to four days without charges.

Prosecutors opened a terrorist investigation after the car was found near the famous cathedral on Sunday morning.

No one was inside, but police found five canisters filled with gas in the trunk and an empty canister on one of the seats. Along with the canisters, there were three jerry cans of diesel and papers with Arabic writing inside the vehicle.

No detonators were found in the car, which had been left on a narrow cobbled street in the popular Latin Quarter next to bars and restaurants.

The car's owner went to police to report that his 19-year-old radicalised daughter was missing. He was briefly detained and then released.

The two arrested couples have been living in the Loiret region, in the area of Montargis town. In March, three members of a family were arrested in the same area on suspicion of being members of a terrorist network.

More people are still being sought in the Notre Dame case, the prosecutor's office said.


Press Association

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