Two held over plot to disrupt French presidential election

PARIS — Two men were arrested in southern France on Tuesday on suspicion of preparing an attack to disrupt campaigning before the first round of presidential elections, authorities said.

The target of the plot was not disclosed. The news interjected additional uncertainty into a tumultuous and dynamic race, in which the first voting takes place on Sunday.

The two men, French nationals born in 1987 and 1993, were arrested in the port city of Marseille, according to Matthias Fekl, interior minister.


Both are suspected Islamic radicals, according to Paris prosecutor Francois Molins. Police seized guns and explosives from the apartment the men were leaving when they were arrested, Molins said. The explosives found were of a type used in previous attacks in France and Belgium that were inspired by the Islamic State group.

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It was unclear whether a campaign event was a potential target for the attack; Molins said investigators have not determined ‘‘the day, the targets and the exact circumstances’’ of the suspects’ plans.

Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate, and Emmanuel Macron, an independent candidate, told Agence France-Presse that their campaigns received warnings about the two men, including their photographs. Le Pen is planning a campaign rally in Marseille on Wednesday evening.

Over 50,000 police officers, gendarmes, and soldiers will be deployed across France to secure the two rounds of voting, on Sunday and on May 7, when a runoff between the two top vote-getters would be held.