France arrests men suspected of plotting attack ahead of elections

The two Frenchmen found with weapons and propaganda material have been arrested for planning an "imminent and violent attack" before the first round of France's presidential election on Sunday, interior minister tells reporters.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Suspects Clement Baur (L) and Mahiedine Merabet (R) were arrested in Marseille, southern France, on April 18, 2017.

French security services have arrested two men in the city of Marseilles. They claim the pair were in the final stages of preparing a terrorist attack ahead of the first round of France's presidential election on Sunday, authorities said.

Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said in a news conference that weapons, explosives as well as videos had been found in the flat rented since April 1 by French nationals Clement Baur, 23, and Mahiedine Merabet, 30.

TRT World's Simon McGregor-Wood reports from Paris.

Prepared for polls

Molins said the suspects met in 2015 when they shared a prison cell after having been jailed for petty crime. Baur was known to have links to Chechens, and Belgian authorities had been investigating him.

France heads to the polls on April 23, with a second round likely on May 7, in one of the most unpredictable elections in its modern history.

Security is a key issue after attacks by militants have killed more than 230 people in the past two years. French Interior Minister Matthias Fekl said 50,000 police, gendarmes and soldiers would be deployed for each leg of the election, and security has been reinforced for the candidates.

TRTWorld and agencies