French national arrested in Paris region over 'advanced terror plot'

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve
French Interior Minister Bernard CazeneuvePHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said police had arrested a suspect in the Paris area on Thursday (March 24) who was in "the advanced stages" of a plot to attack France.

While Cazeneuve said the raid in the Argenteuil neighbourhood north-west of Paris had led to a "major arrest", he told reporters there was "no tangible evidence linking the plot to either the attacks in Paris or Brussels".

The arrested man, a French national, "is suspected of being involved in the plan at a high level," Cazeneuve said.

"He belongs to a terrorist network that sought to strike our country."

Police operations were continuing late on Thursday, with officers searching an apartment building in Argenteuil after having evacuated its residents.

Bomb disposal experts were at the scene to allow police officers "to proceed with searching the apartment, the parking and the communal areas in optimal conditions", Cazeneuve added.

A security cordon was set up around the building.

The minister added that the suspect had been under surveillance "for several weeks" and that the arrest was also the result of "close and constant cooperation between European services".

The arrest comes two days after 31 people were killed in suicide bombings at Brussels airport and on the city's metro, putting security services across Europe on high alert.

The assailants in the Brussels attacks - two of whom are still on the run - are known to have had links to those involved in the November 13 Paris attacks that left 130 dead.

Both assaults have been claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.