Gas cylinders found in car near Notre Dame cathedral

French police hold two suspects after finding barman alerts them to abandoned car.

PARIS // French police were holding two suspects on Wednesday after finding several gas cylinders in a car near Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

The Peugeot 607 was discovered abandoned at the weekend with its hazard lights flashing, according to police sources.

The owner of the car and another person, who are both known to security services, were arrested on Tuesday and antiterror investigators have launched a probe.

France remains on high alert for terror attacks. In November, suicide bombers and gunmen killed 130 people in Paris in a series of attacks claimed by ISIL.

A bar employee working near the cathedral -raised the alarm on Sunday after noticing a gas cylinder on the back seat of the car, which had no number plates, a police source said.

That cylinder was found to be empty but five full cylinders were found in the boot of the car. However, no detonators were found.

The car was parked in a side street opposite the cathedral. on the left bank of the River Seine. Its owner was identified on Tuesday.

Notre Dame, a Gothic cathedral famous for its flying buttresses, stained glass windows and gargoyles, is one of the most famous and popular landmarks in Paris and attracts 13 million visitors each year.

Patrick Calvar, the head of the French domestic intelligence service, the DGSI, warned in May of a “new form of attack” in which explosive devices would be left near sites that attract large crowds.

Such attacks would create large numbers of victims without sacrificing suicide bombers, he told a parliamentary committee.

In July, 86 people were killed and dozens injured when a lorry ploughed into a Bastille Day crowd in the Mediterranean resort of Nice. ISIL said the driver, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, was one of its followers.

Less than two weeks later, two young extremists murdered a priest near the northern city of Rouen.

French security services are particularly worried about the danger posed by extremists returning from Syria, where they have been fighting with ISIL forces.

France’s top prosecutor said last week around 700 French nationals were currently in Syria.

* Agence France-Presse

Published: September 7, 2016 04:00 AM


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