French police have linked an explosives lab which they discovered near Paris to alleged members of a Jihadist cell suspected of the recent bombing of a Jewish store.
On Oct. 9, French police officers discovered firearms and “all the elements necessary to produce explosive devices” at a parking lot in the eastern Paris suburb of Torcy, Francois Molins of the Paris prosecutor’s office said at a press conference on Oct. 10.
French police found the cache after interrogating 12 suspects arrested over the weekend in different French cities, predominantly in Cannes and Paris, he added.
Molins said the suspects belonged to a “Jihadist cell” that was “extremely dangerous.”
On Saturday, French police agents killed a suspected member of the cell in Strasbourg after he fired on officers during a raid.
The raid, one of several operations which French police carried out that day almost simultaneously, was on suspects in the Sept. 18 bombing of a kosher supermarket in Sarcelles, a northern suburb of Paris. Two men threw an explosive device into the shop. One man sustained minor injuries in the explosion.
On Saturday, Molins of the Paris prosecutor’s office said the dead man, Sidney Louis, had “converted into radical Islam,” adding he belonged to a “network, almost a cell” of “radicalized Muslim delinquents.”
On Saturday, just hours after the anti-terror raids, blank bullets were fired near a synagogue in Argenteuil, a Paris suburb.
French President Francois Hollande has said he would beef up security around Jewish institutions. “Security will be reinforced in the coming days,” Hollande said after meeting Jewish leaders on Sunday at the Elysee palace, vowing that the state was ready “to fight all terror threats.”
France’s Jewish community has been on edge after a series of attacks in recent months. In the worst incident, 23-year-old Mohamed Merah, seemingly acting alone, killed three soldiers in two separate attacks before shooting dead three children and a rabbi outside a Jewish school in Toulouse.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls said there were several hundred radical Islamists in France capable of acts of terrorism, and that its prisons were breeding radicalism.
President Francois Hollande promised on Sunday to step up security around synagogues and said the government would soon present legislation to parliament that would allow police to arrest people believed to have been involved in terrorism-related activity outside France.
The Socialist government is taking a hard line on terrorism, saying no act will be tolerated, as it tries to avoid a repeat of the bloodshed in Toulouse.
The incident prompted authorities to raise the terrorism alert in the Toulouse region to “scarlet”, the highest level - the first time this had been done in France.
That was later reduced to “red”, where it had been since coordinated attacks on the London transport system in 2005.