Suspicious vehicle containing gas canisters found near synagogue in Marseille – report
A suspicious vehicle containing two gas canisters has been found near a synagogue in Marseille, France, just a week after a similar incident near Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral led to the arrest of several Islamic State sympathizers, local media report.
The suspicious car was found in southern France on Saturday morning next to the Community Centre of Bar Yohaye (local synagogue), La Provence newspaper reported.
Two gas cylinders were found in the car, the paper said, adding that the area has been put under heavy security.
The police Prefect of Bouches-du-Rhône, Laurent Nunez, confirmed to la Province that no detonators were found in the car, adding that it was too early to draw parallels between Saturday’s incident and the one that took place in Paris last week.
A similar incident took place last week next to one of Paris’ most famous attractions, the Notre Dame Cathedral, where a parked Peugeot 607 was found with at least seven gas cylinders inside. One empty canister was sitting on the passenger seat, but no detonators were found during the investigation.
On Friday, French authorities confirmed that three “radicalized” women had been arrested in connection with the Notre Dame case. RTL TV reported that the suspects had been planning to set the canisters on fire, but something reportedly went wrong, and they had to hurriedly leave the site.
One of the arrested women, identified as a 19-year-old Ines Madani, had reportedly sworn allegiance to the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group, French media said. She was reportedly on the “Fiche S” list – an indicator used by France to flag people considered to be a threat to national security. The people on that list are supposed to be constantly monitored by the authorities.
“A group has been destroyed,” said French President François Hollande, referring to the arrests, while warning that “there are others [extremists groups]” remaining.
On Saturday, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced that, since the beginning of the year, French authorities have arrested some 293 people“engaged in terrorist networks.”
The country has been on high alert since January of 2015, when it was hit by a series of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL)-linked terrorist attacks.
The biggest loss of life took place in November of 2015, when at least 130 people were killed in Paris, and at least 84 people were killed in a tragedy in Nice on July 14 of this year when a truck driven by an IS sympathizer plowed through crowds during Bastille Day celebrations.
France was also shaken by the murder Father Jacques Hamel in the northern city of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in July, when the 85-year-old priest had his throat cut by two purported IS militants.