Five Russians were detained in France Monday night, suspected of planning an attack in the south of France, the republic’s prosecutor Yvon Calvet said Tuesday.
The detainees are of Chechen origin and at least two of them lived in France, according to 20minutes.fr. They are suspected of planning an attack in Béziers, a city in the French province of l’Herault located just 6.2 miles from the Mediterranean Sea, with an airport serving several European capitals.
“The preparation of an attack is not completely confirmed for the moment,” Calvet said. “The investigation is only at its beginning and other people could be detained.”
On Monday night, “a cache of explosives was discovered not far from the Sauclières Stadium” in Béziers, according to Midi Libre. The stadium, which can hold up to 12,000 people, is used for soccer matches and is the home of French soccer team AS Béziers.
Midi Libre reported that at least one suspect was being monitored by law enforcement after being named a suspect in the 2008 bombing at a university in the french city of Montpellier, just miles from Béziers.
Three Chechens were arrested in France in 2013, suspected of being Islamist terrorists, according to CNN. The three men were thought to be part of a terror cell led by Eldar Magomedov, who had ties to both al Qaeda and the Islamic Jihad Union, an Uzbek jihadist group known for plotting attacks in Western Europe, specifically Germany.
The prosecutor did not give details about the detainee’s affiliation with any terror groups. However, Chechens make up a large portion of the foreigners fighting with the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, aka ISIS.
As of 2013, there were roughly 30,000 Chechens living in France in communities in Nice, Montpellier and Toulouse, among others, according to the Jamestown Foundation.
On Monday, tens of thousands of people in Chechnya protested French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammed, according to CBC News.
Some carried signs that said "Hands off our beloved prophet" and "Europe has only united us."