French police announced last night that they are seeking a young woman after a car carrying gas canisters was found outside Notre Dame cathedral in the country’s capital on Saturday.
The car had been parked outside the landmark for two hours with its hazard lights flashing before attracting the attention of the police. On investigating further, it was discovered that the Peugeot 607, which had no registration plates, was carrying seven gas cylinders, one of of which was empty and on the front passenger seat, Reuters reported. No detonating device was found. Documents written in Arabic were also discovered within the car, AP have reported.
The missing woman is said to be 19 years old and was known to French Police for wanting to leave France for Syria. Her father, who is also understood to be the owner of the car, was detained briefly after attending a police station to report his daughter missing on Sunday. According to prosecutes, no mention was made by the father of the missing car.
Two further people have also been arrested in connection with the incident. A young couple described by French prosecutors as, ‘radicalized’ were arrested on a motorway on Tuesday in southern France, before being transferred to Paris for questioning. The couple are said to be aged 34 and 29. According to AP, prosecutors would not say why investigators suspected them of being involved in the case or if the couple had been in contact with missing woman.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said he was waiting for a report from investigators on what the possible motives were for the incident. According to Cazeneuve, there have been 260 arrests so far this year in cases linked to extremism. “a significant number of these people were preparing attacks.” the Interior Minister was quoted as saying.
In a an interview with Le Monde newspaper earlier this week, Paris prosecutor François Molins said that the apparent weakening of ISIS, (Daesh) positions in Syria, Iraq and Libya led to an increased risk of attacks upon foreign targets. Molins also pointed to the increasing number of teenage girls reported to have been radicalized, with “very worrying profiles” ‘and ‘very harsh personalities.”