Rio De Janeiro, July 22: Brazil’s federal police in an major step have arrested at least 10 people for allegedly planning terrorist attacks during Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro which are scheduled to begin from next month.
Justice Minister Alexandre Moraes named the group as “absolute amateurs”, adding that their detention was a preventative measure.
According to officials, suspects had also tried to make contact with Islamic State, but were not members of the organisation, Xinhua reported.
All the arrested people are Brazilian citizens and detained from 10 different states. They had been in link with each other through mobile messaging services like WhatsApp and Telegram, police said.
Thursday’s developments came a week after 84 people, including scores of children, were mowed down by a heavy truck in an alleged terrorist attack while celebrating Bastille Day in the southern French city of Nice.
Brazil’s institutional security minister, Sergio Etchegoyen, said after the Nice attack that security would be beefed up to “another level” for the August 5-21 Games.
Brazil’s federal police are understood to be monitoring 100 people for possible links to terrorist groups. Meanwhile intelligence agencies are boosting security and tightening checks in the tri-border region with Argentina and Paraguay.
“Today was the first operation against a supposed terrorist cell in Brazil,” Moraes said. “Brazil was not part of the coalition against IS, but because of the upcoming Olympics and because it will receive many foreigners, Brazil becomes part of the target.”
Agents from over 100 countries and regions are working in tandem with Brazil’s federal police and armed forces during the Games period, according to the government.
Brazil is also reportedly planning a special security arrangement at the opening ceremony for French President Francois Hollande.
South America’s largest country will deploy 88,000 soldiers and police during the Olympics, more than double the number at the London 2012 Games.