French police have arrested five women from the same family on charges of planning a terrorist attack, local media reported.
Citing a source close to the operation, state-run Franceinfo radio reported on Monday that the police arrested an 18-year-old woman, her mother and three sisters on the night of April 3 as part of a probe into “terrorist criminal association” and “possession and manufacture of explosives in connection with a terrorist enterprise”, reports Xinhua news agency.
The young suspect was spotted after posting messages on social media suggesting that she would act during the Easter holidays, Xinhua news agency quoted the Franceinfo report as saying.
Investigators believe that she had planned to attack a church in Montpellier.
They found in the suspects’ home chemicals that were frequently used by terrorists to manufacture homemade explosive devices, in addition to a firing device from a cell phone and a Japanese sword, the report said.
All the detainees had no criminal background and were not known to intelligence, it added.
France has become a major target of terrorist attacks following its military operations in Iraq, Syria and the Sahel region in Africa.
On November 13, 2015, 130 people were killed and more than 400 injured in a series of deadly attacks in Paris and the city’s northern suburb.
In October 2017, President Emmanuel Macron signed an anti-terrorism law, giving police more power to search and arrest suspects without requiring judges’ approval in order to boost the country’s response to terror risks at home.