PARIS - France froze the assets of two suspected Iranian intelligence operatives on Tuesday in retaliation for an alleged bomb plot uncovered near Paris in June, in a move that could cause diplomatic tensions with Tehran.

The French government announced it had frozen assets belonging to two Iranians and Iran's ministry of security and intelligence following the alleged plot to bomb an Iranian opposition group in a Parisian suburb in June. "This extremely serious act envisaged on our territory could not go without a response," France's interior, foreign and economy ministers said in a rare joint statement.

"In taking this decision, France underlines its determination to fight against terrorism in all its forms, particularly on its own territory," they added.

The foiled attack in June was to have targeted a meeting of thousands of Iranian opposition supporters which was also attended by leading US figures, including close allies of President Donald Trump.

Six people were arrested afterwards in coordinated raids by European police forces, including an Iranian diplomat called Assadollah Asadi, who is set to be extradited from Germany to Belgium for prosecution. Asadi was targeted by France for the six-month asset freeze on Tuesday along with another man named as Saeid Hashemi Moghadam. Iran has denied any involvement in the alleged bomb plot and said the opposition group, the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK), had orchestrated the plot to discredit Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as he embarked on a tour of Europe. The counter measures by France could have major diplomatic repercussions at a time when France is working to keep Iran in the 2015 accord to limit its nuclear programme amid major tensions in the Middle East.

Iran refutes involvement in foiled attack

Tehran reiterates its non-involvement in a foiled terrorist attack in the French town of Villepinte after France froze the assets of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, Bahram Qassemi, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Paris froze the assets of two Iranian citizens as well as the Directorate of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry over a foiled terrorist attack in Villepinte, a city located just outside Paris.

“Once again, we reject the accusations and allegations … and express the Islamic Republic of Iran”s strong objection to the apprehension of the Iranian diplomat,” Qassemi said, as quoted on the ministry website.

The Foreign Ministry called for the immediate release of an Iranian diplomat who is suspected of involvement in the plot.

“The existing documents reveal the clear role of dissidents, ill-wishers and saboteurs in this farcical show. So, we ask French authorities to be realistic toward the Islamic Republic of Iran, and once again warn about the evil hands of ill-wishers that aim to ruin the age-old ties between Iran and France and other influential European countries,” Qassemi underlined.

Also Tuesday, around 200 police launched a dawn anti-terror raid on one of the biggest Shia Muslim centres in France, the Zahra Centre France, as well as the homes of its directors. A total of 11 people were questioned and three were arrested, security sources told AFP, including for the illegal possession of firearms. The Zahra Centre France was founded in 2009 by Yahia Gouasmi, who has spoken in support of Lebanese Islamist group Hezbollah and the Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Gouasmi is also the founder of the Anti-Zionist Party in France and is an associate of controversial comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, a convicted anti-Semite.

The raids on Tuesday were staged as part of the "prevention of terrorism" procedures, regional authorities said in a statement.

Police have been closely following the activities of the Zahra Centre "because of the strong support by its leaders for several terrorist organisations and in favour of movements backing ideas that are contrary to the values" of France, a statement from local authorities said.