French police discovered and removed five sticks of dynamite that had been planted in a large department store in central Paris on Tuesday, Dec. 16. Responsibility for the act was claimed by an unknown Afghan group.
Police evacuated the Paris department store as a precautionary measure
The French Interior Ministry, however, said the dynamite sticks were not connected and could not have exploded because they lacked fuses.
Police were sent to the Printemps store on the Boulevard Haussmann after a letter from a group calling itself the Afghan Revolutionary Front saying that bombs had been planted in one of the shop's buildings was sent to a French news agency.
The entire department store, which was bustling with Christmas shoppers, was evacuated as police carried out their search. They found the dynamite in a men's room on the third floor of the store's men's department.
"From what we know so far, this was not a device that was intended to explode," Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said. We are investigating to find the perpetrators."
In the letter, the Afghan Revolutionary Front, which was previously unknown to authorities, demanded that French President Nicolas Sarkozy "withdraw his troops from our country Afghanistan before the end of February 2009 or we will take action again in your big capitalist stores and this time without alerting you."
France currently has about 3,000 soldiers deployed in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban rebels.
In Strasbourg, Sarkozy confirmed to journalists that the explosives lacked a detonating system and said that police were in the process of analyzing the explosives and the letter.
"All we can do is to be prudent and moderate," Sarkozy told a news conference in the European Parliament. "Vigilance in the face of terrorism is the only possible line to take."