Police launched a manhunt Saturday for a suspect whose fingerprints were found on a gas canister used in a failed bomb attack on a high-speed train line.
As they searched, soldiers took up posts at the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and other prominent spots in Paris as part of a national deployment of troops to help reassure the public, edgy after a series of bomb attacks.
“We are here to protect, to reassure the French population and tourists,” Capt. Pascale Denoyelle, posted at the Eiffel Tower, told Associated Press Television.
Soldiers were to be deployed today in southern France, particularly Marseille and border areas, the regional government said. Security at all schools will also be increased.
The Interior Ministry offered a “substantial reward” for information leading to the arrest of Khaled Kelkal, whose name was released after police detained 31 people in the Lyon region early Saturday for questioning.
The Algerian-born Kelkal, 24, is the second suspect named since the start of a bombing campaign that began July 25 with a Paris subway attack that killed seven people.
Islamic militants in Algeria, a former French colony, are suspected in the bombings, in which more than 100 people have been injured. Three of the six bombs failed to detonate properly, including one at the Arc de Triomphe.
The newspaper Le Monde reported that Kelkal’s fingerprints were found on the gas canister placed by a high-speed train line near Lyon on Aug. 26.
Five of the six bombs planted were made with gas canisters. In most cases, the canisters have been filled with nails and hexnuts. The bomb found Aug. 26 contained 55 pounds of a powdery explosive.
Police issued headshots and a fulllength photo of Kelkal. The suspect, known to police, is suspected of taking part in a July 15 shootout with police near Lyon in which five officers were slightly injured.
The Interior Ministry announced Friday that 1,800 soldiers would be mobilized around the country to assist police in a reinforced security plan last used during the 1991 Gulf War.
The order came after a car bombing Thursday in front of a Jewish school outside Lyon, in southeastern France, that injured 14 people. Officials said lives were spared because the school bell rang a few minutes late.
French authorities have long feared that an Islamic insurgency in Algeria could spread across the Mediterranean to France. Algeria gained independence from France in 1962 after a brutal seven-year war, but Algerians have a large community here that keeps ties between the two nations strong.
The Armed Islamic Group, the most radical group in the insurgency, has threatened to punish France for supporting Algeria’s military-backed regime and for killing four hijackers who seized an Air France plane last Christmas Eve. The group claimed responsibility for the hijacking, in which three passengers were killed.
France is also seeking the extradition of an Algerian living in Sweden, Abdelkrim Deneche, a suspect in the Paris subway bombing who is suspected of having links to the Armed Islamic Group.
Swedish authorities are examining the request but have indicated they don’t consider Deneche, said to have been in Stockholm at the time, a suspect in the attack.