Man arrested in Paris after Iran consulate incident

Man arrested in Paris after Iran consulate incident

PARIS (Reuters) - French police on Friday arrested a man who had threatened to blow himself up at Iran's consulate in Paris, but on being searched was found not to be carrying any explosives.

A police source told Reuters the man was seen at about 11 a.m. (0900 GMT) entering the consulate, carrying what appeared to be a grenade and explosive vest. Police cordoned off the area.

The man later left the consulate and was then arrested, a police source said. The TV channel BFM said he had been carrying replica grenades.

A police source said it was the same man who had been suspected of attempted arson near the Iranian consulate in an incident last September.

Le Parisien newspaper said on its website that, according to several witnesses, the man had dragged flags on the floor of the consulate and said he wanted to avenge the death of his brother.

It was unclear whether the incident had any link to current tensions between Iran and Israel.

Earlier on Friday, explosions echoed over the Iranian city of Isfahan in what sources described as an Israeli attack, but Tehran played down the incident and indicated it had no plans for retaliation - a response that appeared gauged towards averting region-wide war.

The U.S. embassy in Paris asked Americans to avoid the area, following similar recommendations by French police.

(Reporting by Juliette Jabkhiro, Inti Landauro and Sudip Kar-Gupta, Gabriel Stargardter, Zhifan Liu, Benoit Van Overstraeten; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing Kevin Liffey and Timothy Heritage)