Warsaw — Polish officials said on Tuesday they had arrested a radical nationalist who planned to detonate a vehicle loaded with four tonnes of explosives outside parliament, possibly when the president and prime minister were in the building.
The suspected plot was the first of its kind to be exposed since Poland threw off Communist rule more than 20 years ago. It is likely to put intense scrutiny on radical right-wing groups in Poland which are fiercely opposed to the liberal government.
Polish television, citing sources close to the investigation, said the suspect planned to copy methods used by Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in bomb and gun attacks in Norway last year and said he was driven by far-right views.
“The case looks very serious,” Pawel Gras, a government spokesman, told a local radio station. “We know that the possible targets were to be the president, the parliament and the government.”
Prosecutors said the man, a scientist who works for a university in the southern city of Krakow, had assembled a small arsenal of explosive material, guns and remote-controlled detonators and was trying to recruit others to help him.
A video recording taken from the suspect showed what prosecutors said was a test explosion he conducted, sending up a huge cloud of dust and leaving a large crater in the ground.
“The suspect does not belong to a political group or party. He claims that he was acting on nationalistic, anti-Semitic and xenophobic motives,” prosecutor Piotr Krason told a news conference.
“He carried out reconnaissance in the neighbourhood of the Sejm (parliament). This building was to be the target of the attack. He collected explosives and materials for detonation,” Krason said.