France foils bomb plot

French police foiled a bomb plot and rounded up 12 people for questioning, a public prosecutor said on Thursday.

Experts believe that the bomb-making material discovered by authorities could have been enough to make a device as lethal as the one planted on a Paris subway train in the mid-90s that killed eight people and injured close to a hundred, Reuters reported.

Prosecutor Francois Molins spoke four days after the raids that rounded up a dozen people for questioning. An additional suspect was shot dead on Saturday when he fired at police. Seven of the twelve will be placed under official inquiry, while five others are being released, said Molins.

The men were suspected of being part of an Islamist terrorist cell, and were taken in for questioning after bomb-making material was found in an underground parking lot in Paris, the Guardian reported. However, the BBC reported that the 12 were arrested after a grenade attack on a Jewish shop in Paris, and the discovery of the bomb-making material happened after the arrests.

Officers recovered items including potassium, sulfur, saltpeter and a pressure cooker and two weapons from the site, said Molins.

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"We can say that we are clearly and objectively facing an extremely dangerous terrorist cell," Molins was quoted by the Guardian as saying, explaining that the 12 had been held over the normal limit of 96 hours because of the seriousness of the investigation.

He said that all the arrested suspects were French, and recent converts to Islam.

Molins said two of the men were involved in a network of Islamist jihad, with one acting as a contact for potential jihadists, while the other traveled to Egypt and Tunisia.

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