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Belgium had sought suspect in foiled French election attack

Belgium had sought suspect in foiled French election attack

An attack plot foiled by authorities in southern France sparked fears the closing days of the campaign could be a target for extremists.

They were arrested on Tuesday morning at a flat they had been renting for less than three weeks in Marseille, where the Uzi, two handguns, ammunition, a hunting knife, a map of the city, a balaclava and a GoPro camera were found.

He explained the two suspects had met while sharing a cell in prison and were known to police as radicalized.

It included footage of children killed in alleged coalition air strikes in Syria and Iraq and showed an Uzi submachine gun on a table, next to the front page of France's Le Monde newspaper from March.

In the last days of campaigning all bets are off in the French presidential election.

The terrorist plot is believed to have been targeting candidates of the election, in particular the right-wing candidate Francois Fillon, local media reported. "It's been two consecutive five-year periods since we allowed the Islamist threat to flourish, and today we have come to a situation where we even wonder if electoral campaigns will still be possible tomorrow", said Florian Philippot, Vice President of the FN.

The election race for a successor to the deeply unpopular Francois Hollande has become increasingly tense as the gap between the leading candidates shrinks.

"Our democracy, voting operations and election campaigns are threatened".

Another poll, a daily survey by Opinionway, gave similar projections to Cevipof for the top candidates and projected Macron beating Le Pen in the May 7 second round by 65 percent to 35.

Extra measures are being put in place to ensure for the polling as France's fight against homegrown and overseas Islamic extremism emerged as one of the main campaign topics for presidential candidates.

The Cevipof poll of 11,601 people showed first round support for Le Pen falling 2.5 percentage points since early April to 22.5 percent and backing for Macron down 2 points to 23 percent.

The presidential election is being watched as a bellwether for global populist sentiment, in large part because of Le Pen's nationalist, anti-immigration positions. The far-left candidate wants to renegotiate European Union treaties, pull out of NATO and replace austerity with stimulus.

Centrist Emmanuel Macron called for national unity and stronger intelligence.

In contrast to Le Pen, Macron on Sunday told 20,000 people at a Paris rally that France's future lay firmly in Europe, albeit one that suited French interests. "We are not afraid", he said, according to AP. Almost a third of voters are yet to decide on one of the eleven candidates.

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