French authorities have reportedly foiled an "imminent" terrorist attack on at least one Christian church after a young Islamic extremist was arrested in Paris with an arsenal of weapons.
On Wednesday, French police revealed that the suspect, a 24-year-old computer science student, was only detained on Sunday because he accidentally shot himself in the leg.
According to the Independent, the man, who was "armed to the teeth," called for an ambulance, and was found bleeding on a pavement in the 13th arrondissement of the city. After following a trail of blood to his car, police found a large arsenal of weapons.
"Documents were also found and they prove, without any ambiguity, that the individual was preparing an imminent attack, in all probability, against one or two churches," Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said, the BBC reports.
The young man, an Algerian who had lived in France for several years, had previously expressed a desire to travel to Syria and was flagged as a risk by security officials last year, said Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. According to one French official, evidence of ties to Islamic extremism was found in the suspect's apartment in southeastern Paris. The man is also believed to be responsible for the death of Aurelie Chatelain, a 32-year-old mother, who was found shot to death in her car Sunday morning.
France has remained on high alert since the January attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket left 20 people dead, including three gunmen. According to earlier reports, hundreds of French citizens have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside militants, with many at home with links to recruitment cells.
"Terrorists are targeting France to divide us," French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned on Wednesday
This latest threat also comes amid growing fears over ISIS attacks on Christians. Last week, the terror group released a video showing the slaughter of two groups of Ethiopian Christians in Libya, numbering 30 people in total. ISIS warned "the nation of the cross" that more killings are to come, vowing further "revenge" for what it called "shed Muslim blood."
In February, the group beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, and later captured up to 300 Assyrian Christians in a series of village raids. Although a handful of them were later released, ISIS has warned the remaining captives will be killed unless they receive $100,000 per individual.
Earlier in April, Pope Francis urged world leaders to not "turn a blind eye" to persecuted Christians.
"Our brothers and sisters ... are persecuted, exiled, slain, beheaded, solely for being Christian," Francis said.
"I hope that the international community doesn't stand mute and inert before such unacceptable crimes, which constitute a worrisome erosion of the most elementary human rights," Francis said. "I truly hope that the international community doesn't look the other way."