France arrests men suspected of planning attack ahead of elections

In their Marseille apartment police found one automatic rifle, two handguns, quantities of ammunitions and three kilograms of explosives as well as products and equipment to make explosives, Molins said.

The men, both French, are "suspected of wanting to commit, in an imminent way, a violent action on the eve of the French presidential election", the minister said.

PARIS-Extremism concerns shook France's presidential campaign Tuesday as authorities announced arrests in what they said was a thwarted attack and candidates urged tougher counterterrorism efforts for a country already under a state of emergency.

They allegedly meant to commit an attack "on French soil in the very near future, that is to say in the next few days", he said.

Elite police and agents from France's domestic intelligence agency detained the two Frenchmen - identified only as 23-year-old Clement B. and Mahiedine M., 29 - in the Mediterranean port city and Interior Minister Matthias Fekl said they were known to be "radicalized".

Police arrested two men in Marseille Tuesday on suspicion of planning an "imminent" attack, finding guns, explosives and an Islamic State jihadist flag just days before the first round of France's presidential election.

Both are suspected Islamic radicals, according to Paris prosecutor Francois Molins.

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Macron's campaign team said authorities earlier provided a photo of the suspects to his security detail.

Ms Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, the europhile given the best chance of beating her in a run-off, are leading in opinion polls for the first round of the election this Sunday, with around 22 to 24 per cent each.

Melenchon has made the most remarkable breakthrough in recent weeks with a far-left programme that includes huge public spending and a pledge to renegotiate all European Union treaties.

"Don't believe what they tell you", he said.

"We need Europe, so we will remake it", Macron said. It warned main candidates in the ballot of a threat to their security, according to campaign officials.

Those on the right have been particularly vocal, seeking to appeal to voters traumatized by Daesh-inspired attacks that have killed at least 235 people in France since January 2015, by far the largest casualty rate of any Western country.

Fekl said police were carrying out searches and that security surrounding the elections and the candidates had been strengthened.

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