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Iraqi man arrested in Poland ahead of Pope Francis' visit

A 48-year-old Iraqi man has been arrested on charges of possessing explosives in Poland. The arrest in Lodz comes just days ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Poland for World Youth Day.

Small amounts of explosives, "not sufficient to make an explosion" were found on the man, according to Beata Marczak, spokeswoman for prosecutors in the central Polish city of Lodz said. He could face up to eight years in prison if convicted on charges of illegal possession of explosives, she added.

Explosive traces were found on the man's luggage and clothes at hotels in Lodz and Krakow, news channel Polsat News reported. The man was reportedly arrested at a hotel in Lodz on Sunday and was reportedly in possession of notes on preparing terrorist acts against French supermarkets in Poland.

The man was reportedly questioned by the Internal Security Agency in English and put under two months' arrest. Marczak said there are as yet no legal grounds for categorizing this as terrorism," Marczak said.

Lodz court spokesman Pawel Urbaniak said on Monday that the man's identity is being investigated as he had "very basic" documents on him. Polsat News said the man had arrived in Poland a couple of weeks ago after being expelled from Sweden and had lived in Switzerland for several years previously.

Poland's interior minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, said on Monday that border guards have denied entry to about 200 people since July 4, when Poland introduced temporary border controls due to the world youth meeting and the NATO summit in Warsaw on July 8-9.

Poland is deploying over 40,000 security personnel to protect Pope Francis, who arrives on Wednesday. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are expected to attend the July 26-31 youth festival in the southern city of Krakow.

Blaszczak told reporters Monday that around 200 people had been stopped so far from entering Poland in the run-up to the festival.

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jbh/kms (AP, AFP)

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