Police linked those arrested to group urging French people to combat Muslims
Ten alleged extreme-right militants suspected of a terrorist plot to attack Muslims in France are to appear before a judge and face preliminary charges.
Nine men and one woman aged 32 to 69 including one retired police officer were arrested in raids across France on Saturday, in the Paris area, the Mediterranean island of Corsica and the western Charentes-Maritimes region.
Police had linked the ten to a little-known group called Action des Forces Operationnelles (Operational Forces Action), which urges French people to combat Muslims, or what it calls the enemy within. Rifles, handguns and homemade grenades were found during searches.
The Paris prosecutors office said on Wednesday that it had asked an investigating judge to file preliminary charges.
In a statement, the prosecutor said an array of weapons and potential bomb-making equipment were found and authorities feared a violent act but at this stage couldnt determine the exact targets. The group, which was seeking to expand, offered combat and survivalist training and held meetings to define its objectives and how to attain them, the prosecutor said. Some had tested homemade grenades and explosives.
The Guerre de France (War for France) website of the shadowy Operational Forces Action group depicts an apocalyptic battle scene under the Eiffel Tower, and claims to prepare French citizen-soldiers for combat on national territory.
Frances TF1 television reported earlier this week that the group had allegedly planned to randomly target women wearing headscarves in the street and had also allegedly planned to hit targets linked to radical Islam.
Im not surprised by these arrests because the current climate of Islamophobia encourages this sort of passage from words to deeds, said Abdallah Zekri of the French Council of the Muslim Faith after the arrests.
The Council said it was particularly worried about the security of the countrys roughly 2,500 mosques.
France registered 72 violent anti-Muslim acts last year, up from 67 in 2016.
In a statement at the time of the weekend arrests, the interior minister, Grard Collomb, emphasised the total mobilisation of security services to prevent any disturbance to public order and any threat to people and property, especially those targeting a particular religion.