PARIS – A Frenchman in the “advanced stages” of a plot to attack the country was arrested Thursday northwest of Paris and security forces locked down the area during a major search, France’s interior minister said.
Bernard Cazeneuve said there were no links “at this stage” between the plot and the attacks against Brussels this week or Paris in November.
Cazeneuve said bomb squads were on site. The raid took place in Argenteuil, on the northern outskirts of the French capital. He noted that the person arrested was implicated at a “high level” in the plot, but offered no details.
Witnesses told The Associated Press that the immediate area had been locked down, and residents were unable to return home for hours after the raid began.
France has been on high alert since the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and injured hundreds. Cazeneuve said there had been 75 arrests since the beginning of the year, and 28 suspects had been jailed.
A 23-year-old resident of the neighborhood described seeing heavily masked and armed officers surround the entrance to an apartment building before entering and emerging with the suspect, his head covered in a scarf.
“Police told us to get out of the way, it’s dangerous,” the resident said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the tense situation in the neighborhood.
“We are all shocked,” he said. “We’re asking us how this could have happened.”
Associated Press writer Angela Charlton contributed to this report.