The weekend discovery of a bomb on a high speed train line has heightened fears that France is falling victim to a new wave of terrorism.
The bomb, found on the track between Lyon and Paris, comes after two Paris bombings - thought to be the work of Algerian Islamic extremists - killed seven people, injured about 100 and put the nation on a high security alert.The bomb's triggering mechanism malfunctioned and it failed to explode. The device, a gas canister filled with 55 pounds of a powdery substance, was placed at the base of an electric pylon at Cailloux-sur-Fontaines, about 13 miles from Lyon.
"The threat of terrorism continues to weigh on our country," Premier Alain Juppe said Sunday, when the bomb's discovery was announced. The bomb was found Saturday morning.
Juppe conceded that new security precautions - including police reinforcements and baggage checks - "cannot, alas, be 100 percent effective."
Officials in the Rhone region, where the bomb was found, quickly announced new patrols along rail lines, air surveillance and other undisclosed measures.
No one claimed responsibility for the bomb, and the Interior Ministry said no direct link could be established between the explosive device and the two Paris bombings.
But some similarities were apparent. Gas canisters, increasingly used by Islamic extremists in attacks in Algeria, were used in all three bomb incidents.
A little-known Algerian extremist group claimed responsibility for both the July 25 Paris subway bombing that killed seven people and injured 84, and the Aug. 17 bomb near the Arc de Triomphe that injured 17.
A train driver first spotted the bomb Saturday after surveillance trains that check the tracks each morning reported nothing unusual. The train authority said it had added an extra agent to its surveillance trains.
France has been on edge throughout August, fearing it is being drawn into the Islamic insurgency in its former colony.
The Armed Islamic Group, the most radical of those fighting to oust Algeria's military-backed government, has repeatedly threatened France for allegedly sup-port-ing the Algerian regime.
France is to issue an extradition demand for an Algerian suspect in the subway attack, Abdelkrim Deneche, who has expressed support for the Armed Islamic Group and is detained in Sweden.
Swedish radio quoted Deneche's lawyer as saying Deneche was also a suspect in the assassination of a moderate Islamic activist in Paris.