Driver is arrested, but no apparent terrorist intent, and there is no chemical or environmental danger, say local officials
Police arrested a delivery driver after finding a car with at least three gas canisters in southeastern France, but there are no signs of a terrorist plot, according to local Isere prefecture officials.
After a police operation to secure the area in Chasse-sur-Rhone, south of the city of Lyon, an investigation was opened and the owner of the car was arrested, a spokesperson from the prefecture told Anadolu Agency on the phone. For the moment, there is no sign that the canisters had terrorist intent, the spokesperson added.
French broadcaster LCI reported that the arrested man, 27, with roots in the east African island nation of Comoros, works as a delivery driver of gas canisters.
"A suspicious vehicle has been reported in a parking lot in Chasse-sur-Rhône..., where three gas canisters were hidden, a leak has been detected," the Isere prefecture said earlier in its initial statement.
Residents of the town, which has several factories containing large quantities of dangerous substances, were alerted by the smell of gas escaping from the passenger seat of a Peugeot 406, according to local newspaper Le Dauphine Libere.
Police set up a 500-meter security zone and "about 200 people were evacuated and taken to the shelter in a gymnasium," police said.
After examining the car and securing the area, no chemical or environmental danger was found, and residents "are too far away for there to be a risk,” the prefecture said in a statement.
Roads and train stations closed earlier were reopened.