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The man suspected of having placed an improvised explosive device in the Saint-Étienne cathedral in Toulouse on Friday morning was arrested at the start of the afternoon by the police, the prosecutor was informed. The cathedral had been evacuated during mass, following the irruption of a man who deposited a suspicious package at the foot of the altar before fleeing.
The Saint-Étienne cathedral in Toulouse was evacuated on Friday April 8 in full mass, after a man left a package containing a homemade explosive device, a priori without a firing device, we were informed of concordant sources.
The suspect was arrested in the early afternoon by the police. “The person suspected of having dropped off the package has been arrested and placed in police custody, he will be heard,” Toulouse public prosecutor Samuel Vuelta Simon told AFP.
He was known to the police for driving while intoxicated, contempt of an officer, narcotics and had been “implicated in other cases and twice declared criminally irresponsible”, he added.
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Mistaken for a deliveryman by the sexton
Around 8:30 a.m., the Saint-Etienne cathedral in Toulouse was evacuated during mass.
A few moments earlier, a man wearing a cap, taken for a delivery man by the sexton, crossed the nave to place a package at the foot of the altar.
As he ran away, he bumped into the sexton who was trying to hold him back.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who had reported on Twitter a “police operation in downtown Toulouse” asking to avoid the area, added less than 45 minutes later that the operation was ” over. No casualties”.
The individual suspected of having deposited the package resembling an improvised explosive device in the Saint-Étienne cathedral in Toulouse was arrested. Thank you to our police services. https://t.co/dDN21FgUJZ
— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) April 8, 2022
The suspect was searched for several hours before being located in Balma, a residential suburb of Toulouse.
After the incident, the sexton asked the faithful to evacuate the cathedral, which adjoins the prefecture, and alerted the police.
The surroundings of the cathedral were cordoned off while the deminers neutralized the explosive device which does not contain a detonator.