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France arrests teenagers planning terror attack

September 25, 2016

The suspects confessed to planning an attack in France, but allegedly later abandoned the plot. Several teenagers have been arrested in September on suspicion of plotting terrorist attacks on French soil.

Police officers in Nice
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/I. Kalashnikova

Police said they had arrested two teenage women in mid-September in the French city of Nice on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack in the country, said the Paris prosecutors' office on Sunday.

"They were incited to commit an attack on specific targets in retaliation for the recent death of the Daesh's spokesman," a source close to the investigation told the French newspaper "Le Parisien," referring to the "Islamic State" militant group by its Arabic acronym.

The women, aged 17 and 19, confessed to considering an attack on French soil, but reportedly abandoned the idea, "Le Parisien" added.

They were from the same neighborhood in Nice as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the Tunisian man who killed 86 people in July when he drove a truck through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day.

In September, the French intelligence agency, General Directorate for Internal Security, arrested four other teenagers suspected of plotting attacks in France.

The suspects were in contact with Rachid Kassim, a French jihadist and member of the so-called "Islamic State" militant group. The Paris prosecutors' office noted that they communicated using the encrypted messaging platform Telegram.

Kassim is believed to have inspired an attack on a Catholic church in France, in which an elderly priest's throat was slit. Authorities also suspect his involvement in several foiled terrorist plots.

Nice: The aftermath

Threat level at 'maximum'

France has been on edge after a series of terrorist attacks beginning in January 2015, when Islamist militants launched an assault on the offices of satirical magazine "Charlie Hebdo" and a kosher deli in Paris.

In November, 130 people were killed when "Islamic State" militants launched attacks across the French capital.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has warned that the threat of a terrorist attack in the country is at the "maximum" level.

France is a key partner in the US-led coalition against the "Islamic State" operating in Syria and Iraq, staging air raids against militant targets.

Who was 'Charlie'?

ls/jm (AFP, Reuters)