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Poles arrest man for possession of explosives days before World Youth Day

Young people at a concert in Warsaw ahead of the start of WYD 2016 (AP)

Law enforcement officials in central Poland said Monday that a 48-year-old Iraqi man has been arrested on charges of possessing explosives.

The arrest on Sunday in Lodz took place just days before Pope Francis comes to Poland to meet with hundreds of thousands of young people from around the globe for celebrations of the World Youth Day. Poland’s Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak says the gatherings will be safe.

Beata Marczak, spokesman for prosecutors in Lodz said that “small amounts of explosives, not sufficient to make an explosion” were found on the man. He could face up to eight years in prison if convicted on charges of illegal possession of explosives.

The man was questioned in English and put under two months’ arrest, but there were “no grounds for allegations of terrorism,” Marczak said.

The investigation is supervised by the Internal Security Agency, she said.

Lodz court spokesman Pawel Urbaniak said earlier on Monday that the man’s identity was being investigated as he had “very basic” documents on him. The man has no permanent address in Poland.

Blaszczak added that Border Guards have denied entry to some 200 people since July 4, when Poland introduced temporary border controls due to the world youth meeting and the NATO summit that was held in Warsaw July 8-9.

People attending Pope Francis’s meetings with world youth in Poland have been told to expect detailed security checks before entering, Polish police has said.

A number of big events will be held in Krakow and nearby in southern Poland during the World Youth Day celebrations from July 27-31.

For a full schedule of World Youth Day events, go here.