Interior minister urges local parishes to strengthen protection measures next week; in April a plot to attack a church near Paris was foiled.
Police are investigating to see if the three men are accomplices of 24-year-old student suspected of planning attack on churches near Paris.
Within hours of the revelation last week that a planned armed attack on churches near Paris had been foiled, President François Hollande and prime minister Manuel Valls publicly asserted that it underlined the need for the French government’s proposed new surveillance and intelligence law. This deeply-controversial bill, which gives wide-ranging powers to intelligences services to watch over the population, is currently going through the National Assembly, with a crucial vote due on May 5th. Yet an analysis of the case of arrested student Sid Ahmed Ghlam, who is said to have been planning the assault on two churches at Villejuif near Paris, raises doubts over whether the new powers in the bill would have made any difference. It emerged that Ghlam, who was placed under formal investigation on Friday for terrorist offences, was already known to the security services. Moreover, he had twice been questioned – the second occasion was in February this year – but released each time because officials apparently considered that he did not pose a serious enough risk. Some experts say the authorities should spend more time on prioritising which suspects to watch rather than on seeking new surveillance powers. Jérôme Hourdeaux and Louise Fessard report.
Student faces probe over 'murder and attempted murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise' over death of woman and church attack plot.
Sid Ahmed Ghlam, 24, said to be 'under the heel of' commanders who told him how to get his hands on rifles, pistols and bulletproof vests.
Manuel Valls also revealed 1,573 French citizens or residents had been implicated in 'terror networks', 442 of whom are believed to be in Syria.
Officials say there is 'no doubt' that suspect - named as Sid Ahmed Ghlam, a 24-year-old Algerian national - had been planning church attack.
Officials say 24-year-old suspect, an IT student, is also suspected of killing Aurélie Châtelain, who was shot dead in her car on Sunday.
The city owns 104 Catholic and Protestant churches and two synagogues, many of historical and architectural value but in poor condition.