Explosives found in Paris store

Group warns of blasts across capital unless French troops leave Afghanistan

Paris faces the threat of a terror campaign against Christmas shoppers after the discovery of five sticks of unfused dynamite in the massive Printemps department store in the heart of the city yesterday.

An unknown group warned that explosives would be detonated without warning in large "capitalist" stores unless France removed its troops from Afghanistan by the end of February.

Although the statement did not carry the usual hall-marks of al-Qa'ida, or other extreme Islamist groups, the warning was being taken seriously last night by French authorities. The ageing dynamite was found yesterday morning in the cistern of a toilet on the third floor in the menswear section of the designer brands store which is usually packed with Christmas shoppers at this time of year. An accurate warning letter had arrived at the French news agency, Agence France-Presse, yesterday morning signed by the Front Révolutionnaire Afghan.

All three Printemps buildings on the Boulevard Haussmann, the most crowded shopping street in Paris, were immediately evacuated. A police sniffer dog rapidly located the explosives, which were tied together with rope.

Police sources said that several factors suggested this might be the work of cranks or a marginal, extremist group, rather than an Islamist movement. The use of ageing, unfused sticks of dynamite, the dispatch of an accurate, warning letter and the use of the word "capitalist" all pointed away, they said, from a genuine Islamist or Afghan connection. On the other hand, they said, the letter was written in poor and ungrammatical French. There had been "little chance" of the dynamite exploding, they said. All the same, the letter's warning would be taken seriously and security in all large Paris stores and shopping streets would be tightened.

President Nicolas Sarkozy said that there was no question of France withdrawing its troops under terrorist threat and urged caution. "At this point in time I would call on everyone to be very prudent and very moderate," M. Sarkozy said.

While visiting the store just before it reopened yesterday afternoon the Interior Minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, said: "Five sticks of dynamite, which were relatively old, were found in a toilet cistern on the third floor. The device was not operational. We must be cautious about the claims in the letter, which might be intended to send the investigation on a false trail."

The letter was posted in north-east Paris on Monday evening.

A Taliban leader warned in a video released last month – but apparently recorded in August – that attacks would be made in Paris unless France withdraws the 2,700 troops which are serving with other Nato forces. Farouq Akhoun Zadeh, who appeared in the video, claimed to be the leader of a Taliban force which had killed 10 French soldiers. He said: "This is a message to the French: if they don't admit their mistake and withdraw from Afghanistan, our response will be heard in Paris."

Seven "presumed jihadists" were arrested in the Paris suburbs yesterday but police said that they had no connection with the incident at Printemps.

The store, opened in 1865, has 2,000 employees and attracts an average of 100,000 shoppers a day – many more in the week before Christmas.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
Louis van Gaal at the Hawthorns prior to Manchester United's game against West Brom
football

Follow the latest updates from the Monday night Premier League fixture

News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past