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France to extend state of emergency until presidential election

media French President Francois Hollande speaks to RFI, France 24 and TV5Monde RFI

France's state of emergency is to be extended until next year's presidential election, President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls have announced. Four people were arrested on Tuesday in connnection with a planned attack on a church last year.

Speaking to RFI, France 24 and TV5Monde at the Cop22 conference in Marrakesh, Hollande said he wished to prolong the state of emergency introduced after the November 2015 Paris attacks until the election, which will take place in April and May next year.

The "exceptional measures" would be needed to protect rallies and other activity during the campaign, he said.

About 600 French nationals or former residents are currently fighting alongside jihadi groups in Syria and Iraq, according to Hollande, who said that "we manage to apprehend all of those who return".

Earlier Valls confirmed reports that the state of emergency, which notably allows house arrests and has relaxed controls on searches of premises, would be extended.

It has already been extended four times and been incorporated into the constitution.

"Every day, every week, jihadi networks are dismantled and people are arrested," he said. "Attacks are regularly avoided."

A state of emergency expires in the fortnight that follows the resignation of a government or the dissolution of parliament, which usually follows the election of a new president.

Hollande said he would not decide whether to seek reelection until early December.

Four arrested in church attack plot

For men aged between 30 and 39 were arrested on Tuesday, accused of being accomplices of Sid Ahmed Ghiam, an Algerian student believed to have been planning an attack on a church in Villejuif, south of Paris.

They are accused of providing logistical support.

Ghiam was arrested in April 2015 after calling emergency services because he had shot himself in the leg.

Four Kalashnikovs, two handguns and two bullet-proof jackets were found in his car or his room and he was found to have been receiving instructions from Syria, police say.

The attack never took place but a young woman was found in her car after being shot dead.

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