Lyon bomb blast suspect pledged allegiance to ISIS

French emergency workers arrive at the scene of a suspected package bomb blast along a pedestrian street in the heart of Lyon, southeast France on May 24, 2019. (AFP)

The man suspected to have planted a parcel bomb in the central French city of Lyon that wounded 13 people last week has told investigators that he had pledged allegiance to the ISIS, a judicial source said on Thursday.

The 24-year-old man, identified as Mohamed Hichem M., was arrested Monday after an extensive manhunt since Friday, when 13 people were wounded by the explosion on a busy pedestrian street in Lyon.

“He admitted having made the parcel bomb and deposited it late on Friday afternoon not far from Lyon-Perrache train station in front of a bakery,” the source close to the investigation said.

Sources close to the case said that after initially refusing to talk, the suspect admitted on Wednesday to planting the bomb, packed with screws and ball bearings and a relatively small amount of acetone peroxide, or APEX.

It was the same volatile compound used in the deadly Paris terror attacks of November 13, 2015, which prompted a wave of extremist attacks in France that have killed more than 250 people.

The ISIS group has been behind several of the attacks, though police had said no one had claimed the Lyon blast.

The suspect's brother was also arrested and is still being held for questioning by anti-terror investigators in Paris, although their parents were released from custody on Thursday.

A search of the man's home had already turned up “elements likely to be used for making APEX,” one source told AFP, and searches of his computers pointed to internet searches related to extremism and bomb-building.

Thirteen people were wounded in the blast -- eight women, four men and a 10-year-old girl.

The package was placed in front of a bakery near the corner of two crowded pedestrian streets in the historic heart of Lyon at around 17:30 pm (1530 GMT) last Friday.

Video surveillance cameras led police to identify the man after he fled the scene on a bicycle. He was arrested while getting off a bus in a suburb just south of the city.

Lyon Mayor Gerard Collomb said this week that the suspect had not been known to the police.
 

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