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Euro 2016 'ultra-nationalist' attacks thwarted, Ukraine says

An SBU video showed the moment of arrest on the border with Poland.

Ukrainian police have arrested a Frenchman accused of plotting a string of terror attacks before and during Euro 2016.
The 25-year-old man, whom Ukraine’s state security service had been following since December, was discovered with an arsenal of weapons and explosives near Ukraine’s border with Poland, officers said.
He had bought five Kalashnikov semi-automatic rifles and two anti-tank rocket-propelled grenades. Police also reportedly found in his car 5,000 bullets, 100 detonators and 125kg (275lb) of TNT, as well as balaclavas and other weapons.
Officials said the man had far-right ultra-nationalist views and was planning to attack bridges, railways, synagogues and mosques, tax offices and motorways.
A video made by Ukrainian security and posted on YouTube purportedly shows the man loading a white van with weapons before being dragged out of the vehicle by soldiers.
French police said they had no evidence that the man had links with any terrorist groups.
Ukraine’s state security service (SBU) said it first noticed the man last December when he allegedly tried to “establish ties with Ukrainian troops under the guise of volunteering”. Ukraine is currently engaged in a conflict with Moscow-backed separatists in the east of the country.
“The Frenchman spoke negatively about his government’s migration policies, the spread of Islam and globalisation,” an SBU spokesperson said. “He also said he wanted to perpetrate acts of terror in protest.”
A statement added: “The SBU has succeeded in stopping 15 terrorist attacks that were planned in France just before and during the European football championship.”
The alleged arms haul.

Vassil Hrytsak, of the SBU, said the man had made contact with forces in eastern Ukraine. “He began by being interested in how to buy arms, explosives and other equipment in Ukraine.” He said the SBU had not wanted to reveal the arrest until after the end of the Euro 2016, but the information was leaked to the press.

French police said the man was from the Lorraine region of eastern France and was unknown to France’s police and security service

French local television and L’Est-Républicain newspaper named the man. A French police source told the paper there was nothing to suggest he was planning attacks and his motivation appeared to be arms trafficking. However, they complained they could say nothing for sure as they had had little concrete information from the Ukrainian counterparts.

A search of the man’s home in the Meuse, eastern France, found “nothing in particular”, French police told AFP, apart from a T-shirt with the logo of an extreme rightwing group.

An investigation has been opened by the central office for the fight against organised crime (OCLCO) and the police in Nancy. “An international extradition requests has been sent, but the Ukrainians haven’t sent us any legal papers for the moment,” an official said.

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 An SBU video showed the moment of arrest on the border with Poland. Photograph: SBU
The French authorities are deploying 90,000 soldiers, police, gendarmes and security guards for the football tournament, which opens on Friday. France is under an ongoing state of emergency following the series of bombings and shootings in Paris last November, and on high alert for attacks on Paris and other cities where matches are being held.

Islamic State members including Saleh Abdeslam, who is in prison in France awaiting trial on his connection with the November attacks, are thought to have been planning to hit the tournament.

Interviewed by France Inter radio on Sunday, the French president, François Hollande, admitted Euro 2016 was a security risk. “The threat exists … even if we mustn’t let ourselves be intimidated. We have make absolutely sure this Euro 2016 is a success,” he said.

Hollande added he hoped the championship would be a “popular, sporting European party”.

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