France arrests 2 suspects for plotting terror attack
Apr 19 2017 by Desiree Burns
"Everything has been put in place to ensure the security of this big event for our democracy and our republic".
The two men, identified only as Maehiedine M. and Clement B., are both well known to French authorities.
France goes to the polls on April 23 and on May 7 in one of the most unpredictable elections in its modern history with security a key issue after attacks by militant Islamists which have killed more than 230 people in the past two years. Authorities have been particularly concerned that the presidential election, the first round of which is on Sunday, could also become a target.
Last week, photos of the two suspects were distributed to the security teams for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron.
"This morning between 10 and 11 a.m., the police of the DGSI [French intelligence agency] proceeded with the support of the RAID [elite police] to arrest in the 3rd arrondissement of Marseille two men suspected of a certain and imminent terrorist act", Fekl told a press conference in Paris.
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The Paris prosecutor said on Tuesday that a video linked to the two Frenchmen and intercepted in early April had featured a machine gun placed on a table as well as a newspaper which had one of the presidential candidates on the front page.
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen speaking in Henin-Beaumont, France, December 6, 2015.
Before Tuesday's arrests were announced, Le Pen said on RTL radio that she would expel foreign extremists and draft army reservists to close France's borders as soon as she takes office.
Far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon, who has surged in recent weeks, was on 19 percent, the poll showed, while conservative leader Francois Fillon, recovering from a nepotism scandal, was on 19.5 percent.
With the country still under a state of emergency, Fekl said more than 50,000 police, gendarmes and soldiers would be deployed for each leg of the election. "The security forces are mobilized everywhere across France to ensure the security of French people and to ensure the presidential campaign goes smoothly".