French police arrest suspects accused of planning 'imminent terror attack'

The arrests come only days before the first-round of the country's presidential election

French police arrest suspects accused of planning 'imminent terror attack'

A hooded elite police officer stands by a car during searches in Marseille, southern France, Tuesday. Picture by: Claude Paris/AP/Press Association Images

Police have arrested two suspected radicals who were allegedly preparing an "imminent" attack in France.

The news comes as the country prepares to vote this weekend in the first round of its presidential election.

French interior minister Matthias Fekl said at a brief news conference that the arrests took place in the southern city of Marseille.

He said the "radicalised" suspects were preparing to strike Marseille "in the next few days".

"The men are suspected of wanting to commit, in an imminent way, a violent action on the eve of the French presidential election," Mr Fekl told reporters.

"Everything has been put in place to ensure the security of this big event for our democracy and our republic. The security forces are mobilised everywhere across France to ensure the security of French people and to ensure the presidential campaign goes smoothly," he added.

According to reports, the two suspects are aged 23 and 29, and they have been taken into custody by French domestic intelligence service agents.

Guns and bomb materials have been found by police, but searches are still under way.

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

The country goes to the polls to choose a new president on 23 April, with a second round of voting due on 7 May.

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

Emmanuel Macron, the 39-year-old pro-European candidate appears to have the best chance of beating Le Pen in a run-off.

However, radical leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon and conservative ex-premier Francois Fillon have also gained ground - transforming the first-round vote into a tight four-way race.