French police officers [Illustrative].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Authorities have reportedly uncovered the first all-female Islamic State cell in France after several suspects were detained over alleged plans to attack the Eiffel Tower.
The four-woman cell's purported leading member was arrested last week in connection to an explosives-laden car found near another Paris landmark - the Notre Dame cathedral.
The leading suspect, an alleged 29-year-old mother-of-three was named as Ornella Gilligman. She reportedly told French authorities that her jihadi cell had preferred to target the iconic Eiffel Tower, and not in fact the cathedral.
The other three members of France's purported first all-female ISIS cell were supposedly named as Ines Madani, 19, Sarah Hervouet, 23, and Amel Sakaou, 39. As of Sunday, authorities were still questioning the three.
On Friday, the Paris prosecutor announced that the three women were arrested after the car was found. He said they were directed by Islamic State militants in Syria and were completely committed to the cause.
"A terrorist cell comprised of young women ... has been dismantled," prosecutor Francois Molins said. "They were guided by individuals in Syria in the ranks of Islamic State."
Woman detained in France after discovery of car with gas cylinders
Molins said one of the women was the former fiancee of two suspected Islamist attackers - Larossi Abballa, who killed a French police commander and the commander's partner in June of this year in Magnanville, as well as Adel Kermiche, who killed an 85-year-old priest in Saint-Etienne-Du-Rouvray along with another teenage Islamic militant in July.
Last Sunday, French authorities found the car near Notre Dame loaded with gas cylinders and jerry cans of diesel.
The finding lead to the discovery of a plot to attack a Paris railway station under the direction of Islamic State.
Seven people, including the four women, were arrested on suspicion of connection to the plot.
One of the women, arrested on Thursday stabbed a police officer during her arrest on Thursday.
Gilligman was arrested with her partner on a motorway on Tuesday and was placed under investigation on Saturday.
The man was freed on Saturday.
The discovery of the vehicle triggered a terrorism investigation and revived fears about further attacks in a country where Islamist militants have killed more than 230 people since January 2015.