World

Two held over attack plot ahead of French vote

PARIS: French police yesterday arrested two men suspected of preparing an "imminent" attack, authorities said, just days ahead of the first round of France's presidential vote.

The suspects, aged 23 and 29, were taken into custody by French domestic intelligence service agents in the southern city of Marseille, a source close to the probe said.

French authorities found guns and bomb-making materials during searches in Marseille.

French Interior Minister Matthias Fekl said the "radicalised" men intended to strike "in the next few days in France", but provided few details about the alleged plot.

France has been on high alert since a string of terror attacks that began in 2015, which have killed more than 230 people.

Polls have shown that voters are more concerned about unemployment and their spending power than terrorism or security, though analysts warn this could change quickly in the event of further bloodshed.

Anti-European Union, anti-immigration candidate Marine Le Pen has sought to cast herself as the best defender of France against fresh attacks.

Ms Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, the europhile given the best chance of beating her in a run-off, are leading in opinion polls for the first round of the election this Sunday, with around 22 to 24 per cent each.

But radical leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon and conservative ex-premier Francois Fillon have gained ground, transforming the election into a tight four-way race.

The two leaders of the first round will go through to a run-off on May 7. - AFP

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