Euro-2016: 'Frenchman planned 15 attacks on Jewish, Muslim targets, infrastructure'

© Charles Platiau
Ukraine says a French national, who was caught trying to smuggle explosives and weapons out of the country into Poland, was planning attacks on 15 different targets ahead of the Euro 2016 championship.

Bridges, highway infrastructure and a tax collectors' office were also among the alleged targets.

The arrested Frenchman is a right-wing extremist who planned to attack Muslim and Jewish places of worship as well as government buildings in France, the Ukrainian security service (SBU) said in a statement.

The SBU also posted a video of the supposed arrest on its Youtube account.

“We did a big job, had a large team of security agents work on it. The bulk of the credit goes to the military counter-intelligence unit of the SBU,” the agency’s head, Vasily Gritsak, told journalists Monday.

Earlier reports in the French media said the unidentified French national was arrested on the Ukrainian-Polish border on May 21 as he was trying to smuggle 100 kg of explosives, fuses, three grenade launchers and several Kalashnikov assault rifles.

The SBU said the man, who arrived in Ukraine claiming to be a volunteer willing to help the country’s military, came on their radar in December when he inquired about acquiring weapons from troops deployed in the east. He was arrested after a sting operation, the agency said.

Gritsak said that the SBU suspected “a Russian connection” in the alleged terrorist plot, but would not go into details or provide any proof of the allegations. The head of the service previously accused Moscow of having a hand in the terrorist attacks in Brussels in March, an allegation that prompted Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev to brand Gritsak “a halfwit.”

French police are skeptical about the affair, a law enforcement source in Paris told Reuters, on condition of anonymity. The person in question was not known to either police or intelligence services and police had not found anything incriminating in a search of his home in the Meuse region of France, the source said.

Ukraine has gone through two years of economic deterioration and military crackdown on rebellious eastern regions. The conflict produced a burgeoning black market for arms, which are being stolen from the battle zone and are flooding the rest of the country. Ukrainian media report crimes, suicides and other incidents involving military-grade weapons every week.

Euro 2016 games are scheduled to take place in 10 French cities in June and July in the third time that France hosts UEFA’s championship.

France plans to deploy additional forces ahead of the upcoming championship, Paris Police Prefect Michel Cadot announced on Monday. An extra contingent of 1,200 soldiers will guard public spaces, transportation and landmarks during the event.

“We are focusing on fan zones and stadiums, but during that period there is a very strong need for the general surveillance of the Paris area,” the French official said as cited by AP.

Overall 13,000 troops will be providing security during the month-long tournament.