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Man charged in France over plan to attack tourists

Suspect, who may have psychiatric problems, reportedly planned to kill American, English and Russian tourists, police and military
French policeman stands guard in northern Parisian suburb of Barbes (Twitter/MEE screengrab)

A man suspected of planning to attack American, English and Russian tourists in France was criminally charged late Friday and placed in detention, a judicial source said.

The unidentified 22-year-old, who is reportedly a convert to a hardline interpretation of Islam, was arrested in the southern French city of Carcassonne on Monday, and was charged with association with a terrorist group, according to the source.

He was arrested with a knife and a machete, French reports said.

According to local newspaper La Depeche du Midi, the suspect was on a watch list for potentially dangerous individuals.

The man “confessed to investigators that he wanted to attack American, English and Russian tourists, before launching an attack on security forces – police and military,” the French paper reported.

Carcassonne, where he was arrested, is an hour's drive from Toulouse - the location of four matches in the ongoing Euro 2016 football tournament.

The suspect is said to be from Lunel, a town from which 20 people have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join militant groups, the Telegraph reported.

The British newspaper cited unidentified sources close to the case as saying the man has a history of psychiatric problems, including schizophrenia.

Police say he came to his hardline religious views in 2014, after reading internet propaganda, according to France TV Info. He has been taken to France's anti-terrorism headquarters in Paris.

The arrest came the same day a policeman and his partner were killed in their home in the northwestern Paris suburb of Magnanville. The stabbing attack was carried out by a man claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group, sources close to that investigation have said.