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18 Apr, 2017 10:55

2 suspects arrested in Marseille, planning attack before election – French authorities

2 suspects arrested in Marseille, planning attack before election – French authorities

Two suspects planning a "violent and imminent attack" have been arrested in Marseille, French Interior Minister Matthias Fekl said, adding that security has been stepped up across the country ahead of this month’s presidential election.

"These two radicalized men, born in 1987 and 1993, of French nationality, intended to commit in the very short-term - by that I mean in the coming days - an attack on French soil," Fekl told a news conference as cited by Reuters.

The search at the scene of the arrest in the southern city is continuing, and people have been evacuated from a building at the scene, Fekl added.

The arrests were made between 10am and 11am (08:00-09:00 GMT) local time at an apartment the two suspects were renting, according to Europe 1.

Guns and explosives were reportedly found during the search at the Rue de Crimee. The building's residents were evacuated after that, BFM TV reports

READ MORE: Teenage girls arrested over suspected French terrorist plot

Earlier reports in French media said there were two potential attackers, aged 23 and 29, both armed. One of the attackers has recently converted to Islam, according to Soir media outlet.

Security surrounding the elections and the candidates has been increased.

France has been on high alert since terror attacks in 2015 and 2016 left over 200 dead in Paris and Nice. Authorities have been particularly concerned that the presidential election, the first round of which is on Sunday, could also become a target.

Fekl said more than 50,000 police, gendarmes and soldiers would be deployed for each leg of the election.

"Everything has been put in place to ensure the security of this big event for our democracy and our republic. The security forces are mobilized everywhere across France to ensure the security of French people and to ensure the presidential campaign goes smoothly," the minister said, as cited by Reuters.