A terror plot has been foiled in France after police made a series of arrests amid fears of an attack on a Christmas market.
Officers detained seven Muslims of French, Moroccan and Afghan origin in Marseille and in the eastern city of Strasbourg overnight on Saturday to Sunday.
The arrests were made days before the start of one of the world’s oldest and largest Christmas markets.
The city has been on high alert ahead of the opening, with local officials warning it could be suspended or cancelled if there were serious threats.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the raids were linked to a series of arrests in June during the European Championships that was held in cities across France.
Five suspects have been arrested in Strasbourg and two in Marseille and police say they were all aged from 29 to 37 years of age.
The raids in Strasbourg reportedly took place in the Neuhof and Meinau neighbourhoods, where authorities dismantled a jihadi network in 2014 that included the brother of an ISIS bomber who attacked the Bataclan concert hall in Paris last year.
‘Serious information made these arrests necessary,’ one source said.
Cazeneuve, who did not reveal the target of the plot, said six of those arrested hadn’t been known to intelligence services, and one was a Moroccan who had been flagged to France by a foreign government.
He said the arrests prevented ‘a terrorist act that had been envisaged for a long time.’
The arrests came five days before the opening of the famed Christmas market in Strasbourg, which attracts tourists from across Europe and was the target of a failed terrorist plot in 2000.
Cazeneuve said 43 people have been arrested in November alone as part of anti-terror operations following deadly ISIS attacks on France over the past two years.
France remains in a state of emergency a year after attacks by ISIS jihadists on Paris which left 130 people dead.
Police have detained 418 people this year in terrorism investigations while 43 people have been arrested in November alone as part of anti-terror operations, Cazeneuve added.
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