French police arrest three over Lyon blast

LYON • French police have arrested three people over an explosion in the south-eastern city of Lyon last week which injured 13 people, the authorities said.

The suspected bomber, a 24-year-old Algerian citizen, was arrested along with his mother and another Algerian student who is a family friend, Paris prosecutors said in a statement yesterday.

The suspect is an IT student previously unknown to police, Lyon's Mayor Gerard Collomb said.

Police have also questioned his sister but she has not been arrested, the Paris prosecutors added.

Prosecutors last Friday opened an investigation over "attempted murders linked to a terrorist organisation".

Police had been hunting for a man seen cycling near the scene of the blast who was wearing a green top and bermuda shorts, and carrying a dark rucksack.

He had been the target of an extensive manhunt since late Friday when an explosive device filled with screws and ball bearings was placed in front of a bakery near the corner of two crowded pedestrian streets in the historic centre of Lyon.

Police circulated photos of the suspect on Twitter, leading to "several dozen" calls from people with information.

Sources close to the investigation suspected the explosive was acetone peroxide, or Apex, a volatile compound used in the deadly Paris attacks of Nov 13, 2015.

 

Investigators of the Lyon incident recovered small screws, ball bearings and batteries along with a printed circuit and a remote-controlled trigger device. Officials later said the charge was relatively weak.

Thirteen people were wounded in the explosion - eight women, four men and a 10-year-old girl - of whom 11 needed hospital treatment. The authorities said some of those hurt needed surgery to remove shrapnel but the injuries were not life-threatening.

France has been on high alert following a wave of deadly militant terror attacks since 2015, which have killed more than 250 people.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group has been behind many of the attacks. No one has claimed responsibility for the Lyon blast.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2019, with the headline 'French police arrest three over Lyon blast'. Print Edition | Subscribe