Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said sticks of "relatively old" dynamite tied together but without a detonator were found in the Printemps department store, a favored shopping destination for tourists, and a Christmas season attraction because of its festive window displays.
Police said the explosives were found in the third floor restroom of the menswear department. Police and judicial officials said five sticks of explosives were found together.
French news agency Agence France-Presse said it received a letter from a group calling itself the Afghan Revolutionary Front saying that several bombs had been planted in the store.
Alliot-Marie said the group was "totally unknown" to police but that the claim was being studied.
In the letter, the group demanded the withdrawal of French troops from Afghanistan before the end of February, and threatened attacks if France refuses, said a judicial official informed on the contents of the letter.
Officers cordoned off streets around the building. Anti-crime brigades and bomb squads were called in.
Further details were not immediately available. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the case publicly.
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