7 with terrorist links held in France in August, 3 of them were planning attacks: Minister

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said French police had arrested as many people for terror links in the first half of 2016 as for the whole of last year.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said French police had arrested as many people for terror links in the first half of 2016 as for the whole of last year.PHOTO: EPA

PARIS (AFP) - Seven people with links to terrorist networks, at least three of whom were planning attacks, have been arrested in France this month, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Tuesday (Aug 23).

Mr Cazeneuve said at a press conference that the French police had arrested as many people for terror links in the first half of 2016 as for the whole of last year. However, he did not give details of the August arrests.

On Aug 8, a 16-year-old girl from the Paris suburb of Melun was remanded in custody on charges of planning a militant attack.

The teenager was an administrator of a group on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app that was used by two militants to plan the murder of a priest in Normandy in July.

According to investigators, she "relayed numerous Islamic State group propaganda messages calling for attacks" and also expressed a personal desire to "take action".

The arrests follow two attacks in July that shocked the country just as it was starting to rebound from the militant bloodshed in Paris in November.

On July 14, a 31-year-old Tunisian rammed a 19-tonne truck into crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day in the Riviera city of Nice, killing 86 people and wounding more than 400.

And on July 26, two 19-year-olds stormed a church in the northern town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray and slit the throat of an elderly priest.

Several major cultural and sporting events were cancelled in the wake of the attacks on security grounds.