Thwarted attack rattles France days before presidential vote

Thwarted attack rattles France days before presidential vote

PARIS — Security concerns shook France’s presidential campaign Tuesday as authorities announced arrests in a thwarted attack on the eve of the vote, and candidates urged tougher counterterrorism efforts for a country already under a state of emergency.

Security has already been a strong campaign theme, and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen hardened her tone Tuesday on foreign extremists and border controls while centrist Emmanuel Macron called for national unity and stronger intelligence.

Polls show Le Pen and Macron among four leading candidates with a chance of coming out on top of Sunday’s first round and reaching the May 7 runoff, in an unpredictable vote seen as a bellwether for global populist sentiment.

With security ramped up for the campaign, French police arrested two suspected radicals Tuesday in the southern port city of Marseille and thwarted an attack planned for the coming days, “on the eve of the French presidential election,” the interior minister said.

He gave no details, and it is unclear whether the attack could have targeted a campaign event.

Before the thwarted attack was announced, Le Pen said on RTL radio Tuesday that she would expel foreign extremists and draft army reservists to close France’s borders as soon as she takes office.

“We cannot fight the terrorism that weighs on our country without controlling our borders,” Le Pen said.

Macron struck a tough but conciliatory tone.

He called the arrests a reminder that “the terrorist threat remains very high” especially during the election campaign, and reiterated calls for pressure on internet companies to better police extremism online.

But he added that “terrorism … is a challenge that calls upon us more than anything else to come together, because the terrorists wish nothing more than our division.”

Macron and conservative Francois Fillon have pledged more robust counterterrorism efforts but remain committed to Europe’s open borders.

Le Pen also said she would issue an order to freeze long-term visas for a two-week period so the government can verify, among other things, that the recipients aren’t taking jobs away from French citizens.

Le Pen, who has campaigned against immigration and Europe’s open borders, also wants to impose a 10-per cent tax on labour contracts that go to foreigners.

The economy is front and centre for the candidates, and Macron again pledged Tuesday to redesign famously complex work laws he said are holding back employment.

The Associated Press

Just Posted

Athlete who survived head-on collision offers GameChanger award for women

Victoria woman competed in an Ironman two years after doctors told her she wouldn’t walk

PHOTOS: Bear fishes for salmon in Goldstream Park

Each fall thousands of vistors head to the park to watch the annual salmon spawn

HarbourCats van ticketed at Braefoot Park

Braefoot association dinged $50 for parking baseball team’s van

Victoria resident unable to vote after a move across the Saanich border

Lucia Espino moved just a few blocks, but unable to vote in either municipality

MLA Andrew Weaver hosts town hall in Oak Bay

The event is Thursday at the Oak Bay Recreation Centre

Canada Post strikes leaves small shops in the lurch as holidays approach: CFIB

Rotating strikes began in Victoria, Edmonton, Halifax and Windsor

Outdoor retailer MEC vows to boost diversity after online complaint

Mountain Equipment Co-op was criticized for perpetuating a white-only picture of the outdoors

Trump vilifies caravan, says he’ll cut Central American aid

Despite Mexican efforts to stop them at the Guatemala-Mexico border, about 5,000 Central American migrants resumed their advance toward the U.S. border Sunday in southern Mexico.

Federal carbon tax rebates will exceed the cost for most people affected

Officials say 70 per cent of people in those provinces will get back more than they end up paying out as fuel costs rise to incorporate the carbon tax.

Rotating strike in Toronto will have ‘significant impact,’ says Canada Post

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities.

Cancelling Saudi Arabia arms deal would cost $1 billion: Trudeau

Canada has added its voice to global calls for answers, with Trudeau telling the CBC in an interview today that the Saudi government’s explanation of what happened lacks credibility.

Former B.C. sheriff caught in sex-related sting pleads guilty to lesser charge

Kevin Johnston will be sentenced on Nov. 6 for his role in communicating online with a person posing as a 14-year-old girl.

DFO investigating shooting of Vancouver Island sea lion

Rescued animal remains in critical condtion at Vancouver Aquarium after Ucluelet incident

Man reportedly exposing himself to Vancouver Island students

Incident happened Monday afternoon at Lake Trail middle school in Courtenay

Most Read