By PHILIPPE SOTTO and LORI HINNANT
PARIS (AP) — French investigators believe that three suspects linked to an explosives lab found in an apartment in a Paris suburb had talked about wanting to target a bank and had made phone calls to unidentified contacts in Syria, authorities said Thursday.
Two men were detained Wednesday and the third man on Thursday. The Paris prosecutor’s office said the men are between 36 and 47 years old but provided no further information.
After finding the explosive TATP in the apartment in the town of Villejuif, investigators discovered more explosive components in a nearby cache. TATP, a peroxide-based explosive, has been employed by Islamic extremists.
A judicial official said Thursday that more products that can be used to make explosives were found in a lock-up garage rented by one of the three suspects detained in the case. A police official confirmed the new discovery that was made in Thiais, a suburban city close to Villejuif.
The two officials with knowledge of the probe spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said on Francetvinfo that the suspects apparently wanted to set off explosives in a bank to steal money and had spoken by phone with people in Syria.
The investigation started after a tip provided by a repairman who was doing a job in the Villejuif building and informed authorities after noticing suspicious products in an apartment, Collomb has said.
A counterterrorism investigation was opened under potential charges of “criminal terrorist association” and production, possession and transportation of explosive substances “in relation with a terrorist action by an organized gang.”
Angela Charlton contributed to this report.