Police say the threat of a terrorist attack on French soil is at its highest as authorities suspect al—Qaeda’s North African affiliate may be plotting a conventional bomb attack on a crowded target.

National police director Frederic Pechenard told Europe—1 radio, however, that reports of a female suicide bomber planning a September 16 attack on the Paris Metro were “not so credible.”

But he said on Wednesday the threat level has reached a “peak” and that al—Qaeda’s North African branch poses the most serious threat, though the group is not thought to have the means for a nuclear or biological attack.

Al—Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for last week’s abduction of seven people, including five French nationals, in northern Niger.

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