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France arrests two suspects planning Christmas knife attack

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By AFP  with Euronews
The logo of the French national police on display during a ceremony in Paris.
The logo of the French national police on display during a ceremony in Paris.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, File

France has arrested two men on suspicion of planning a "jihadist-inspired" knife attack, judicial sources told AFP.

The attack was reportedly intended to target passers-by "around Christmas time" in shopping centres, universities, or in the street.

Two suspects -- both aged 23 -- were arrested last Friday and have been placed in pre-trial detention.

During searches, authorities said they seized a knife, mobile phones, and computers containing extremist material, according to French media.

The two men have since been charged with "criminal terrorist association," a judicial source added.

"At least one of the two had a plan to act by the end of the year," a source close to the case told AFP.

"We have detected [online] exchanges between them and ... that led us to believe that their plan was serious and imminent," it added.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin confirmed the arrests on Twitter and thanked France's Directorate General of Internal Security (DGSI) for carrying out the operation.

"The terrorist threat remains at a high level in France, we are not letting our guard down," Darmanin said.

In December 2018, five people were killed in a knife and gun attack on a Christmas market in the city of Strasbourg.