Chechen arrested over Paris Olympics attack plot: ministry

Chechen arrested over Paris Olympics attack plot: ministry

PARIS, June 1 (NNN-AGENCIES) — French security services have arrested a Chechen teenager suspected of plotting an “Islamist-inspired” attack on a football game during the July-August Olympic Games, the interior ministry said.

The DGSI domestic intelligence agency “arrested a 18-year-old of Chechen origin in Saint-Etienne” in southeastern France, the ministry said, calling it the “first foiled attack against the Olympic Games.”

France is on its highest alert level for attacks ahead of the Paris Games, when around 10 millions visitors and 10,000 athletes are expected.

The sport is set to take place mostly in the capital, but other towns and cities around France will also host some disciplines as well as individual games.

The arrested Chechen was suspected of “actively preparing an attack against the Geoffroy-Guichard stadium (in Saint-Etienne) during the football games that will take place there,” the interior ministry said.

“He intended to attack spectators but also security forces and die as a martyr,” the statement added.

The revelations could set nerves jangling in France where organisers have faced persistent questions about the risk of an attack that would seriously tarnish the world’s biggest sporting event.

Most concerns have focused on the opening ceremony on July 26 which will take place over a six-kilometre stretch of the river Seine, the first time a summer Olympics has begun outside the athletics stadium.

Policing such a vast area of the capital represents a huge challenge, with 45,000 officers set to be on duty and large swathes of the centre out of bounds for everyone except ticket holders and local residents.

France has been targeted by Islamist attackers over the last decade, often by individuals inspired by al-Qaeda or the Daesh group.

In October last year, a radicalised 20-year-old Chechen who had sworn allegiance to Daesh killed a teacher in the northern French town of Arras, shocking the country.

The traditional Olympic torch relay is currently underway in France, with the Olympic flame on a 12,000-kilometre trip surrounded by a “security bubble” of 100 officers including anti-drone specialists and anti-terror police.

A total of 78 people were arrested for trying to disrupt the relay and 30 suspect drones were intercepted during the first three weeks, according to figures from the interior ministry this week.

The Olympics have been attacked in the past – most infamously in 1972 in Munich and again in 1996 in Atlanta – with the thousands of athletes, huge crowds and live global television audience making it a target.


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