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Three Women Arrested In France Over Foiled Attack

French prosecutors have placed three young women under formal investigation over a foiled attack near Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Ines Madani, 19, Sara Hervouet, 23, and Amel Sakaou, 39, were brought before anti-terrorism judges on Monday. The women are suspected of plotting to blow up a car packed with gas canisters last week, and of having ties to so-called Islamic State (IS). Another woman, Ornella G, 29, is already being investigated in the case.

The car with its licence plates removed and hazard lights on was found on 4 September, prompting an urgent police search. The three women were remanded in custody after being interviewed on Monday, and placed under investigation for involvement in a terrorist conspiracy.

French authorities believe they also planned to strike a train station in the Paris area or to target police, AFP news agency reported. Investigators say the women were directed by IS handlers in Syria, Le Parisien newspaper reported. The three were arrested last Thursday in the Essonne area south of Paris.

During the raid, Sara Hervouet stabbed a police officer with a knife while Ms Madani was shot in the leg while charging another, local media reported. Police said they had found a handwritten pledge of allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi inside Ms Madani’s purse.

French media said Sarah Hervouet had also had relationships with French jihadists Larossi Abballa, who killed a police officer and his wife near Paris in June, and Adel Kermiche, one of two men who murdered an elderly Catholic priest in a church in northern France. Both men were shot dead by French police.

France has suffered a series of attacks by jihadists who have declared allegiance to IS, including the massacre of 86 people in Nice by a militant who drove a lorry into crowds.