France "still in a state of war" with terrorist groups

Politicians are set to vote on new counter-terror laws that will give authorities sweeping new powers

France "still in a state of war" with terrorist groups

French President Emmanuel Macron and Interior Minister Gerard Collomb 28-09-2017. Image: Pierre-Antoine Pluquet/ANDBZ/ABACAPRESS.COM

One of the suspects arrested over an apparent foiled bombing in Paris over the weekend was under surveillance for radicalism.

Anti-terror police detained five people in the upmarket Porte d'Auteuil neighbourhood on Saturday.

Police uncovered gas canisters and guns after being tipped off by a member of the public about suspicious activity in a building in the neighbourhood.

Authorities later found and deactivated an explosive device.

Two gas cylinders had been discovered in the hallway of the building and two others on the pavement outside.

A mobile phone attached to the cylinders was being investigated as a possible detonator, reports suggested.

Security

Speaking this afternoon, the French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the investigation proves France is "still in a state of war" with terror groups like Islamic State.

“This shows that the level of threat in France is extremely high and all those who thought that everything was over and that it was time to scale down the emergency services capacity were wrong,” he said.

He said one of those arrested was on a police terror watchlist and had been "radicalised."

Police powers

French politicians are set to vote later on a new counter-terror law designed to end the country's two-year state of emergency.

Authorities would be able to place people under house arrest, order house searches and ban public gatherings without needing the prior approval of a judge.

Human rights groups and UN experts have claimed the proposed legislation gives too much power to the state.

However, Mr Collomb argued that the Paris incident and a knife attack in Marseille on Sunday that left two women dead underlined the importance of tough new security laws.

The legislation was approved by the upper house Senate in July and is set to be backed in the lower National Assembly, where the ruling centrist En Marche party has a comfortable majority.

At least 12 planned attacks in France have been foiled since the start of the year, officials claim.

The country has been under a state of emergency since the gun and bomb attacks in Paris in November 2015, which killed 130 people and left more than 400 injured.