Police in Switzerland have confirmed the arrest of two men of Syrian origin on suspicion of transporting explosives and toxic gases as part of a probe into a terror threat in that country.
Several Swiss media have reported that the two men had been arrested in the Geneva region, and that traces of explosives were found in their car. The men were believed to have entered the country from Belgium via France. Swiss security officials confirmed that the men had Syrian passports when they were arrested.
Authorities have refused to name them for security reasons. They are currently being interrogated before appearing in court.
Swiss National Television announced that a van with a Belgian registration entered Switzerland from France via the Jura Mountains. Swiss security officials impounded it together with the two suspected men.
“Two men of Syrian origin were arrested in Geneva on Friday. Traces of explosives were found in their car”, Swiss National Television said on its nightly news broadcast during the weekend.
Last week, the Swiss President, Simonetta Sommaruga announced on National Television that the Federal authorities had put Geneva on a high security alert after getting a tip from foreign intelligent bodies about a suspected Islamic State cell in the Geneva region.
A French national television channel, France24 reported that two anonymous security officials from the United States confirmed to the Reuters News Agency that the Central Intelligence Agency had provided a photo of four suspected Islamic State members to Swiss authorities on December 9, warning they could be on Swiss territory.
A photo published in Swiss newspapers over the weekend showed four bearded men seated, with their faces blurred and index fingers raised in the air. Security officials are still busy searching for these suspected men.
The Swiss Federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement that the two suspected men arrested have been accused of the manufacture, concealment and transport of explosives and toxic gases into the country.
They are also under suspicion of violating Swiss law prohibiting groups like Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and similar radical organizations.
Currently, the Geneva region has raised its alert level to three on a five-point scale. Armed police have been deployed throughout vital locations in the country, which is home to the United Nations and other international organizations.
The city of Geneva is almost entirely enclosed by France, a country still recovering from the self-proclaimed Islamic State attacks that left 130 people dead in Paris last month.
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