French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Thursday that the country’s police officials have thwarted five terror attacks since 2013, including one which targeted a church on Sunday. The comments come in the backdrop of rising terror threats in France since the deadly January attacks in Paris killed 12 people at the office of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and left several injured.
Valls said that 1,573 French citizens or residents had been linked to "terror networks" and 442 of them are believed to be in Syria. Of those in Syria, 97 had died, Valls said, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported, citing France Inter, a local radio station.
"The threat has never been as high. We have never had to face this kind of terrorism in our history," he said, according to Deutche Welle, adding: "I want to remind you that seven French citizens have died while carrying out suicide attacks in Syria or Iraq."
Valls said, according to the AFP, that “numerous attacks had already been foiled - five if you take into account the attack which happily did not take place at Villejuif” in the suburbs of Paris.
The latest arrest of Sid Ahmed Ghlam, 24, was made after the Algerian national accidentally shot himself in the leg and called for an ambulance. Police officials, who investigated the matter, found a blood trail leading to his vehicle, which was filled with guns and notes about potential targets.
Officials found weapons at his house and said that evidence indicated he had ties to Islamic extremism. Handwritten notes in Arabic, with references to the Islamic State group, and an outline of the planned attack were reportedly found at his residence. His DNA also showed links to the murder of a 32-year-old woman.