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Explosives stolen from French military base

AFP / Anne-Christine Poujoulat I A sign reading ‘prohibited area’ at the Miramas army base in southern France

A pile of explosives, 180 detonators and around 40 grenades were stolen from an army base in Miramas in southern France, a source close to investigations said on Tuesday, despite the country still being on high alert following recent terror attacks.

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An investigation has now been launched into the theft by the prosecutor’s office in the nearby city of Marseille, which said it was working on the basis that the crime was the work of an “organised group”.

The Marseille prosecutor said regional gendarmerie and forensic scientists had been mobilised to help with the probe.

The thieves broke into the compound overnight Sunday, cutting a wire fence to gain entry, a source told the AFP news agency.

The Miramas site serves as a logistical platform for the French army’s external operations, French radio station Europe 1 reported. It said the 250-hectare (618 acres) compound is protected by two rows of wire fencing but has no surveillance cameras.

The theft came despite France having raised security after a suspected Islamist beheaded his boss and tried to blow up an industrial gas plant near Lyon on June 26, six months after gunmen killed 17 people at the offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish grocery shop in January.

The theft prompted the country’s Defence Ministry to say Tuesday it asked all military sites storing ammunition to compile internal security assessments “within two weeks”.
 

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