‘Bomb lab’ discovered in Paris may link to terrorist cell in Spain

Three suspects have been arrested after French police found ingredients which could have been used to make an explosive device known as TATP.  According to France 24, police were investigating a suspected bomb factory near Paris when they found the ingredients.

Wednesday, they had searched an apartment in the Parisian suburb of Villejuif and located bomb-making materials. Tipped off by a plumber working to fix a recurrent leak, anti-terror police were told about chemicals on a balcony of the home. The workman also reported seeing a soldering iron and a hot plate through the window, according to reports.

Investigators found gas canisters and electrical wiring, among other items on Wednesday. On Thursday, they went back, finding additional components of a dangerous explosive device during a search of an enclosed parking space belonging to the occupants of the apartment.

The ingredients are described as those required to make the TATP (triacetone triperoxide) explosive device, commonly used by the Islamic State (IS) group. Police suspect the men, who allegedly made calls to Syria, of preparing attacks.

Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said three men arrested in connection to the investigation “were involved in terrorism”.

“We’ve seen that there were calls exchanged” with someone in the war zone in Syria, Collomb reportedly said.

Two of the men in custody two were arrested on Wednesday, and a third was arrested sometime during the night. They all reportedly deny terror plots. They say they were merely planning a string of robberies. The explosives were to be used to blow up bank cash machines, according to Collomb.

Some extremists behind attacks in Spain were also preparing bombs made with TATP, according to France 24, raising questions about whether the suspects could be linked to that jihadist cell. The cell in Spain carried out two vehicle attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils on August 17. Reportedly the men involved in the Spain attacks visited Paris on August 11 and 12, just before their deadly rampage.

“It is possible there were links but honestly I don’t know,” Collomb said.

According to France 24, the men from the Spain cell stayed at a hotel in the Parisian suburb of Malakoff, close to the apartment searched Wednesday and Thursday in Villejuif. Collomb said the Spain jihadists “spent a long time in front of the Eiffel Tower… We have it all from their phone data.”

Europe has been hit hard with terrorist activity, from roving gangs of rapists to shootings.

“France has been under a state of emergency since IS group gunmen launched a series of simultaneous raids on bars, the national stadium and the Bataclan concert hall in Paris in November 2015, leaving 130 people dead,” France 24 reports.

Those attacks, and a truck attack in Nice in July 2016 that killed 86 people, have left French people on the lookout. The workman who alerted police to the potential threat has been praised for his reporting.

 

 

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