Ukraine Says It Arrested Frenchman Plotting Terror Attacks on Euro 2016

Image: The suspect is arrested
A picture of the suspect released by Ukraine's intelligence agency.Handout / Ukrainian intelligence agency

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
By Alexey Eremenko and Alastair Jamieson

Ukraine's intelligence agency said Monday it had arrested a suspected terrorist with a cache of heavy weapons and explosives who was planning to attack France during the Euro 2016 soccer championship.

“He intended to use weapons and ammunition to simultaneously blow up bridges and highway infrastructure across various regions of France,” Ukraine's security service, SBU, said in a statement.

It added that other targets included a mosque, a synagogue and agencies involved in organizing Euro 2016, which opens Friday in Paris.

Related: France Faces Perfect Storm as Tourist Season, Euro 2016 Loom

"The SBU was able to prevent a series of 15 acts of terror [planned] for the eve and during the Euro soccer championship,” the agency's chief, Vasily Gritsak, told reporters.

A picture of the suspect released by Ukraine's intelligence agency.Handout / Ukrainian intelligence agency

The SBU said the suspect — a 25-year-old French citizen — was detained with rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 275 pounds of TNT, five Kalashnikov machine guns, 100 electric detonators and 20 balaclavas.

"The Frenchman spoke negatively about his government's actions, mass immigration, the spread of Islam and globalization, and also talked about plans to carry out several terrorist attacks," according to Gritsak.

Ukraine's announcement came days after the State Department warned Americans of the threat of terror attacks in Europe and cited the Euro 2016 soccer tournament as a possible target.

Authorities across Europe are on high alert after Islamist militants killed 130 people in Paris last November and suicide bombers killed 32 people at Belgium's main international airport and on the Brussels metro in March.

The massive weapons haul was found in the suspect's vehicle.Handout / Ukrainian intelligence agency

The SBU did not name the suspect.

The Paris police prefect, Michel Cadot, declined to comment on the information from Ukraine, saying only that "there is no specific threat against any site in the Euro."

Related: France's Terror Test-Run Didn't Go Exactly to Plan

The Paris prosecutor's office, which handles terrorism cases at a national level, said no investigation had yet been opened.

Gritsak said the SBU has been monitoring the suspect for months and sold him deactivated weapons after they found out that he was looking to purchase the arms. He was detained at the Polish border last month as he tried to return with the cache, according to the SBU, which also tweeted pictures of the arrest.

Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatists have fought in the east since April 2014, killing nearly 9,400 people. It was not immediately clear which side of the conflict the French suspect had contacts with.

France is deploying 90,000 security forces for Euro 2016 and French President Francois Hollande said Sunday night that the threat of attacks won't stop it from being successful.

Some 2.5 million fans — most of them foreigners — will pack into stadiums across France for the Euro 2016 soccer tournament. Essentially a pared-down World Cup, it features 24 teams from across the continent.