PARIS – Five men were detained and weapons seized in anti-terrorist operations across France on Tuesday as the country prepares for a tense presidential runoff, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
The suspects are between 18 and 24 years old. The prosecutor’s office said they were picked up in three locations: near the Normandy city of Rouen, in Villeneuve d’Ascq near Lille in northern France, and in Roanne in central France.
The Paris prosecutor oversees anti-terrorism investigations.
It is not clear whether the arrests were linked in any way to the presidential campaign or Sunday’s runoff election.
With France still under a state of emergency after a string of deadly Islamic extremist attacks, security has been one of the leading themes in the campaign, along with the economy and unemployment.
An attack on Paris’ iconic Champs-Elysees avenue less than two weeks ago heightened pre-election tensions. A gunman opened fire on police, killing one officer and wounding two others and a foreign tourist before police fatally shot him.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the April 20 attack, which happened just three days before the first round of voting in the presidential election.
Two days earlier, police arrested two suspected extremists in the southern French port city of Marseille. Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said the two suspects were getting ready to carry out an “imminent, violent action on national territory.”