Russian-Ukrainian man arrested after explosion in Paris, anti-terror prosecutors say

Suspect reported to have fought in Russian army facing terror probe, as Biden set to visit France for D-Day commemorations

Andy Gregory
Wednesday 05 June 2024 23:17
French police have arrested a 26-year-old Russian-Ukrainian man
French police have arrested a 26-year-old Russian-Ukrainian man (LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images)

A Russian-Ukrainian man has been arrested after blowing himself up in a Paris hotel room, a source in the office of France’s anti-terror prosecutor has said.

The 26-year-old was treated by fire-fighters after he “suffered significant burns following an explosion” at the hotel near Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport on Monday, the source told Reuters.

A subsequent search of his room led to the discovery of products and materials intended for the manufacture of explosive devices, the source added. A stash of guns and fake passports were also found at the hotel, situated in the commune of Roissy-en-France, French media outlets reported.

Anti-terror prosecutors working alongside France’s domestic spy agency have opened an investigation into the man, who is suspected of participation in a terrorist conspiracy and bomb plot, according to the source.

Neither the Ukrainian or Russian embassies in Paris immediately responded to a request for comment. Paris CDG airport said its operations had not been affected.

The suspect is reportedly a Russian-speaker from eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, which has been embroiled in civil war since 2014 and is now largely occupied by Russia’s invading forces.

According to Le Monde, he had recently acquired Russian nationality and fought in the Russian army for two years before arriving in France.

The arrest came as France holds three days of commemorations for the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, which marked the start of France’s liberation from the Nazis. US president Joe Biden is expected to visit on Thursday.

Police officers were guarding the tarmac after the ‘Air Force One’ plane carrying Joe Biden landed at Paris Orly airport on Wednesday
Police officers were guarding the tarmac after the ‘Air Force One’ plane carrying Joe Biden landed at Paris Orly airport on Wednesday (EPA/Julien de Rosa)

France is on maximum threat alert with less than two months to go until the start of the Paris Olympics. The Games take place against a complex geopolitical backdrop, with wars in Ukraine and Gaza, and pose a major security challenge.

Last month, French security services foiled the first planned attack on the Games, with the arrest of an 18-year-old Chechen man allegedly preparing a suicide mission at Saint-Etienne’s soccer stadium.

It comes just weeks after the Financial Times reported that European intelligence agencies had warned their governments that Russia was plotting violent acts of sabotage across the continent, and had started to prepare covert bombings, arson attacks and damage to infrastructure, both directly and through proxies.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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