Three people have been arrested near Paris in relation to an alleged plot to bomb a number of banks, Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said Thursday.
Police were called to an apartment Wednesday and discovered TATP explosives and other material commonly used by jihadis. Two men of North African origin, including the tenant of the apartment, were arrested close to the scene. A third suspect was detained hours later.
French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said the suspects deny any terror plans despite regular phone contacts with people in Syria. The explosives were instead meant to be used during bank robberies. None of them were known to authorities and they all held French passports.
“They wanted to blow up banks with the TATP, but what we’re seeing is that they were linked to terrorists, so it’s more in that direction that we have to look,” Collomb told FranceInfo TV.
A counter-terrorism unit has opened an investigation into “criminal terrorist association” and “possession, transportation and production of explosive substances in relation with a terrorist action by an organized gang,” according to The Local.
TATP, also known as the “mother of Satan,” was found in a house that exploded the day before the terror attack in Barcelona last month. Investigators believe the house was used to make bombs that were meant to be used in the Aug. 17 attack that killed 16 people.
Some of the suspects visited Paris a week before the attack. They stayed at a hotel close to the apartment of Wednesday’s bust and Collomb did not rule out a connection.
“It was possible there were links but honestly I don’t know,” Collomb said.
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