French premier warns about radicalization as boy is arrested

Sep 12, 2016, 01:41
French premier warns about radicalization as boy is arrested

French investigators were on Saturday probing a group of women arrested on suspicion of plotting new jihadist attacks, including an attempted auto bomb near Paris's Notre Dame cathedral.

One woman named as Ornella G. was remanded in custody Saturday on terrorism charges.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has warned that there would be "new attacks" in France, but said that proposals by former president Nicolas Sarkozy to boost security were not the right way to deal with the threats.

Ornella G. was arrested on Tuesday near the city of Orange, in southern France, along with a companion who has since been released, the prosecutor's office told CNN.

The prosecutor, Francois Molins, whose office handles terrorism investigations, said Friday that the woman's fingerprints were found last Sunday in a auto containing a half-dozen gas cylinders and left parked in front of Notre Dame, in the heart of Paris.

Investigators are looking into calls made by a French member of the Islamic State group, Rachid Kassim, for supporters of the group to strike French targets. A third woman, identified as Amel S., 39, was arrested along with her 15-year-old daughter, who prosecutors said has been radicalized.

The women and their associates had already been under surveillance but the discovery of the gas-filled vehicle near Notre Dame had pitted the security forces in "a race against time" to arrest them, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

The group was "guided by individuals in Syria", which showed that IS "means to turn women into fighters", Molins said.

But Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Friday that Ornella G's fingerprints were found inside the auto. Several women have been arrested in France in recent days as police believed a cell was about to attack Paris's Gare de Lyon station, days after trying to blow up a vehicle near Notre Dame.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said police had arrested 293 people this year for "links to terrorist networks".

"This amounts to networks that have been dismantled and attacks that have been prevented", Cazeneuve said on a trip to Chateauroux, central France.

The boy, who was not identified, had been under house arrest since the coordinated November 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people. The three were planning another attack, according to police sources.

The attack shocked France, coming less than 12 days after another Islamic State militant drove a truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice.

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