There will be new attacks, warns French PM

Soldiers on patrol at the Louvre Museum in Paris last Saturday. Several women were detained last week on suspicion of planning attacks in France, a country on high alert after a string of terrorist assaults in the past 18 months.
Soldiers on patrol at the Louvre Museum in Paris last Saturday. Several women were detained last week on suspicion of planning attacks in France, a country on high alert after a string of terrorist assaults in the past 18 months.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE- PRESSE

PARIS • French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the threat from terrorists is at its maximum level and predicted more attacks even though intelligence services are regularly preventing them from happening.

"Every day, the intelligence services, the police and the military are preventing attacks, dismantling networks that are coming out of Iraq and Syria," he said on Europe 1 radio. "Today the threat is at its maximum and we're a target. Everyone gets that. This past week, at least two attacks were stopped."

He added: "There will be new attacks, there will be innocent victims... it is also my role to tell this truth to the French people."

An estimated 700 French citizens, including 275 women, have ties with extremists in Syria and Iraq, Mr Valls said yesterday.

He also said there are 15,000 people on the radar of police and intelligent services who are in the process of being radicalised.

French police also arrested a 15-year-old boy suspected of planning an attack, investigators said yesterday.

The teenager was arrested in eastern Paris last Saturday and had been under house arrest since April for suspected links to Islamic extremists. The police suspect him of plotting "in response to calls from Syria to attack France".

Meanwhile, French anti-terror judges charged a woman last Saturday over a failed attack near Paris' Notre Dame cathedral, where a car full of gas canisters was found.

The mother of three, named as 29-year-old Ornella G., is one of several women who have been detained in the past week on suspicion of planning new attacks in France.

Three other women, named as Ines Madani, 19, Sarah H., 23, and Amel S., 39, were detained last Thursday before they could carry out an attack, investigators said.

Ornella G. told police that she and Madani tried to set the car alight but "fled when they saw a man they believed to be a plainclothes policeman".

Investigators are seeking to determine whether Sarah H. was with the pair at the time.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2016, with the headline 'There will be new attacks, warns French PM'. Print Edition | Subscribe