PARIS — France has foiled five terror plots since January's deadly attacks in Paris, the country's prime minister said Thursday, a day after officials said they had thwarted an imminent assault on a church.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that the five thwarted plots included that involving the arrest of 24-year-old student Sid Ahmed Ghlam on Sunday. Authorities said Ghlam — who had amassed an arsenal of weapons — was planning to attack at least one church and also has been implicated in the killing of 32-year-old Frenchwoman Aurelie Chatelain.
"Never has the threat been so high," Valls said on the France Inter radio station, noting that hundreds of French nationals were now in Syria where they risked being radicalized.
His comments came as the office of Paris prosecutor Francois Molins confirmed to NBC News early Thursday that a 25-year-old woman had been detained in connection with the alleged plot and was being questioned in custody. The office would provide no further details.
On Wednesday, Valls visited Villejuif, the Paris suburb which Ghlam was allegedly targeting and where Chatelain was shot dead.
The mayor of Villejuif, Franck Le Bohellec, announced there would be an increased security presence in the town following the shooting and alleged plot. A statement from Villejuif City Hall said security forces would be conducting intensified patrols in the area.
However, Father Louveau, of Saint-Cyr-et-Sainte-Julitte, one of the churches allegedly targeted, said there was "no question of closing the church" following the alleged plot. "I do not want to be a victim," he said in statement released by Villejuif City Hall.
The January attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a Jewish food store left 20 people dead — including three gunmen.
- Nancy Ing and Alexander Smith
Alexander Smith reported from London.