Five Chechens Arrested in France Accused of Planning an Attack

A French soldier patrols in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris as part of the highest level of "Vigipirate" security plan after Islamist attacks January 20, 2015. Charles Platiau/Reuters

Five Chechens have been arrested in southern France on suspicion of planning an attack, local prosecutors and police sources said.

Local newspaper Midi Libre reported that a hoard of explosives have been found overnight near the football stadium Stade de Sauclières during a series of police raids in Béziers and and other areas around Montpellier.

According to the local state prosecutor Yvon Calvet, raids continued to be carried out today.

Four of the suspects were arrested in and around Montpellier whilst the fifth was arrested 40 miles away in Beziers on Monday.

The arrests come less than two weeks after three men claiming to be Islamic militants killed 17 people in Paris over the course of three days. However, it is not yet known whether there is any relationship between the previous attacks and the current arrests. Reuters has reported that the latest incidence may be related to organised crime, while other media outlets have said that those arrested have been linked to terror plots.

Russia's Chechnya, which has a large Muslim population, has seen some of the (largest) protests against publishing the prophet Muhammad on the front cover of the Charlie Hebdo magazine.

France has been on high security alert ever since the attacks in Paris and a dozen people have been arrested since. Four of those arrested have been accused of providing logistical support to Amedy Coulibaly, who shot a police women and four hostages inside a Jewish supermarket.

Anti-terror raids were launched across Europe in the last week. In Belgium 15 people were arrested on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack, while two suspected jihadists were shot dead in a police raid. Raids have also been carried out in Germany where two men were arrested in Berlin on suspicion of recruiting fighters to join ISIS.