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Daesh planning to hit France during soccer event: Intel chief

20 May 2016 8:42

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The head of France’s internal intelligence agency has warned that Daesh terrorists plan to carry out a series of bomb attacks in the country during next month’s Euro 2016 soccer championships.

“We know that Daesh is planning new attacks, using fighters in the area, taking routes which facilitate access to our territory, and that France is clearly targeted,” said the chief of the General Directorate for Internal Security, Patrick Calvar.

He made the remarks at a hearing before a parliamentary committee on national defense on May 10, a report on which was made public on Wednesday.

The terrorist group is planning to plant “explosive devices” in places where large crowds of people will gather during the upcoming soccer championships, Calvar said.

The soccer event will start on June 10 and run for a month at 10 stadiums across France. The country expects more than two million people to visit for the event.

The rare comments by Calvar come six months after attacks in and around Paris, including at a soccer stadium, claimed the lives of some 130 people. The November 13, 2015 raids were claimed by Daesh.

The French spy chief further said that the new attacks will most likely be launched by French citizens or residents who are currently in Syria and Iraq, where militant campaign are underway against central governments.

Calvar said some 645 French citizens and residents are now in Syria or Iraq, of which 400 are fighting alongside militants.

Daesh “is in a position where it would try to hit as quickly as possible and as hard as possible,” he said.

Soon after Calvar’s remarks were released, the French parliament on Thursday extended the state of emergency that was announced following the November 2015 attacks for another two months to cover the European soccer games.

A member of the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN) deactivates a bomb from a supposed terrorist during a training exercise in the event of a terrorist attack, in central Paris, April 20, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The parliament had extended the state of emergency in February until May 26, giving the police continued expanded powers to maintain security.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has denied any plans for the potential cancellation of the Euro 2016 despite the security threats.

The remarks about the potential attacks by French nationals come as analysts have on numerous times warned about such a perspective.

Hundreds of European citizens, including French nationals, have joined the ranks of the Takfiri militants fighting alongside militant groups in the Middle East, particularly in Syria. They have oftentimes been able to travel freely from their home countries to conflict zones and vice versa.

The main suspect in the November 2015 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was a French national himself. He was arrested on March 18 after a shootout in Belgium’s capital, Brussels, and has been extradited to France for trial.

Days after Abdeslam’s arrest, coordinated attacks hit Brussels airport and a metro station, killing 32 people.

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