France to charge teenager over Easter ‘church attack plot’

French anti-terror prosecutors said on Thursday they would seek charges against an 18-year-old woman accused of plotting a jihadist attack on a church over the Easter weekend.

The woman, identified only as L.B., was arrested at the weekend at her home in the southern city of Beziers.

She will face an anti-terror magistrate on Thursday on charges of belonging to a criminal terrorist conspiracy and possession of explosive devices, the anti-terror prosecution unit PNAT said in a statement.

The investigation had been opened following “intelligence concerning the threat of an attack on a church over the Easter weekend”, the unit said.

During the raid on her home, police found an image of Samuel Paty, the schoolteacher who was killed in October after showing his class cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, the statement said.

They also seized documents describing “several plans for violent action”, others referring to the Islamic State group and Nazism, and a map of a church near her home, the PNAT said. 

France remains on its highest terror alert following massacres on its territory carried out by Islamist radicals from 2015 and also a spate of attacks in late 2020.

These included the beheading of Paty by a teenager originating from Russia’s southern region of Chechnya and also the October 29 knife attack on a church in the southern city of Nice by a migrant from Tunisia that left three people dead.