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Four arrested in France over reported suicide plot

Three men and a teenage girl were detained in anti-terror raids in southern France. The trio was allegedly planning a suicide attack on an unnamed tourist attraction.

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Four terror suspects detained in France: Lisa Louis from Paris

French police thwarted an imminent terror attack when they raided a suspected bombmaking lab in Montpellier and arrested four people, prosecutors announced on Friday. Among those taken into custody in the three raids were a 20-year-old allegedly ready to commit a suicide bombing and a 16-year-old girl, French media reported. 

The group came to authorities' attention after one member attempted to reach Syria in 2015 and because of social media posts the teenager made, a police official speaking on condition of anonymity told The Associated Press.

The public prosecutor's office in Paris said police discovered 70 grams of the chemical TATP and other chemicals in the home of the 20-year-old. TATP is an explosive made from readily available products and was used in the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris and the March 2016 attack in Brussels.

Two other men were arrested in the raids - a 33-year-old and a 26-year-old, according to the prosecutor's office, which handles terrorism investigations in France.

Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said the arrests "thwarted an imminent attack on French soil."

Three of those arrested were suspected of preparing "a violent act on our territory," according to a brief statement from the Interior Ministry.

Girl swore allegiance to IS

Several French media outlets reported that the girl had sworn allegiance to the so-called "Islamic State" in an online video and was planning to move to Syria under the guidance of her 20-year-old mentor.

Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve praised the work of anti-terror investigators.

"Faced with the heightened threat, there has been an extremely strong mobilization of our intelligence services to ensure the French are protected to the utmost," he said.

The French government said it foiled 17 terror attacks during 2016. The country remained on high alert for extremist terrorism after the January 2015 attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo; the attacks across Paris in November 2015 and 2016's Bastille Day tragedy in Nice. 

In September, police arrested three women suspected of planning an attack at Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral after discovering gas cylinders in a nearby car.

Parisian authorities this week announced plans to build an anti-terror, bullet-proof glass wall around the Eiffel Tower.

Just last week, an Egyptian national tried to attack a soldier outside the Louvre museum in Paris with a machete. Police were still trying to determine if the man had any jihadist links. 

aw,es,ls/sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters, EFE)

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