Belgium had sought suspect in foiled French election attack


"The men are suspected of wanting to commit, in an imminent way, a violent action on the eve of the French presidential election", said interior minister Matthias Fekl.

Fekl said police were carrying out searches and that security surrounding the elections and the candidates had been strengthened.

Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen held onto their lead as the frontrunners to narrowly beat other candidates in the first round of the presidential election, a Cevipof poll for Le Monde newspaper showed on Wednesday.

Authorities say they have made hundreds of arrests since the beginning of a year ago, but Tuesday's incident was the first with a possible link to the hotly contested election campaign.

Molins said evidence to date indicated that the two suspects were preparing "an imminent violent act on French territory, but it is not yet possible to say precisely when, or what their target or targets were".

President Francois Hollande praised the work of the security forces, saying they had "done a remarkable job enabling us to arrest two people who will be brought before judges and police so that we can find out exactly what they were planning".

The French presidential election will kick off on Sunday with its first round, and Last Week Tonight's John Oliver dedicated a lengthy and hilarious segment to the issue, urging the French population to come out and vote, especially in the second round, to avoid a potentially disastrous outcome for the country.

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France has arrested 101 people since the start of the year over "direct links to terrorism", Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in an interview to be published later today (13 May), exactly six months after the Paris attacks.

France's internal intelligence agency had warned the main candidates of a threat, campaign officials said. We received their photos and security of the candidates.

"A few days ahead of a major election for our country, I wish to recall that everything has been put in place to ensure the security of this important date for our democracy and our republic", he said.

Le Pen wants to pull France out of the eurozone and also foresees a mass renegotiation of EU treaties, sparking fears that a far-right victory, hot on the heels of Brexit, could be fatal for the European bloc.

Hooded police officers involved in the arrest of two men in Marseille, southern France.

France has been on high alert for more than two years following a string of terror attacks which began in January 2015, killing more than 230 people.

On Monday night, police used tear gas to disperse protesters outside a Le Pen rally in Paris, while two topless female protesters interrupted the candidate's speech.