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Three kilos of homemade explosives and a flag of the Islamic State were found in the home of one of the men arrested on Tuesday for planning a terrorist attack in France just days ahead of the election.

The Paris prosecutors’ office said on Tuesday evening that two men, who were known to the police, were preparing a “violent” and “imminent” attack on French soil when they were arrested in Marseilles.

Marine Le Pen, the far-right National Front candidate, is due to hold a campaign rally in Marseilles on Wednesday. The other four main presidential candidates are also holding large rallies in the coming days.

Several candidates, including Socialist Benoit Hamon and centrist Emmanuel Macron, on Tuesday said that they had been warned by security services about a potential threat to the candidates.

The two suspects, identified as Mahieddine M and Clément B, were known to the security services since 2016 and 2015, respectively, according to the French prosecutor.

They shared a prison cell in 2013 for drug trafficking and then again in 2015 for other offences.

In the Marseilles house, which was paid for in cash, police found a hand-held Uzi sub-machine gun, several pistols, a silencer and ammunition. The explosives were TATP, the so-called “Mother of Satan” frequently used by jihadis.

There was also a homemade grenade, a map of Marseilles, an Islamic State flag and a copy of the Koran. Also in the house was a “Guy Fawkes” mask of the kind frequently used by the hacking collective Anonymous.

The prosecutor said that they had not been able to determine the exact target or the day the attack was planned to take place.

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