Teenage girl among four held in France over 'imminent' attack

 Anti-terrorist police today arrested four people, including a 16-year-old girl, in southern France suspected of preparing what the interior minister said was an "imminent" attack.

The arrests in Montpellier and the small nearby town of Marseillan "foiled a plot to carry out an imminent attack on French soil," Bruno Le Roux said in a statement.

A police source said the four were arrested after buying acetone, a highly flammable liquid that can be used to make bombs.

The other suspects were all men, aged 20, 26 and 33, the source said.
"It seems that they intended to go through with it and to make several explosive devices."
Searches turned up small amounts of TATP, the homemade explosive used by Islamic State jihadists in attacks on Paris and Brussels, the source said.

The teenaged girl had used social media to try to find ways of travelling to Syria to join up with jihadists, the same source said.

The 20-year-old man had been her mentor and had been under surveillance, the source added, and he had been planning "to blow himself up".

France remains on high alert after a wave of attacks that began two years ago, claiming more than 200 lives.

Last week, a soldier shot and wounded a machete-wielding attacker who lunged at him outside the Louvre museum in Paris while shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest).

Investigators have identified the 29-year-old Egyptian and are trying to establish whether he had any link to a jihadist group.

Le Roux has said that French authorities have foiled "no fewer than 13 plots involving more than 30 individuals", including women and minors, since the Bastille Day truck massacre in the Riviera city of Nice last July that claimed 86 lives.

Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said today that hundreds of arrests have been made since the start of 2016. "These individuals were either preparing to carry out attacks or were linked to terrorist groups ordering attacks," Cazeneuve said during a visit to La Souterraine, in central France.

"We face an extremely high terrorist threat that requires us to take measures to assure the protection of our citizens at all times," he said.

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