A man has found nine long guns four metres under water as he was swimming near Marseille on Saturday afternoon, daily Le Parisian reports. Police say the weapons were dumped in the sea in two big sports bags found nearby.
The French navy retrieved the weapons and say traces of rust show they had been recently thrown in the water. The police are investigating the find to see if the arms are linked to a spike in shootings near Marseille.
Four people, including a 37-year-old policeman who was shot chasing suspected burglars, have died in the shootings. Gunmen have been seen firing Kalashnikovs in recent weeks.
Last week, President Nicolas Sarkozy allowed police to use pump shotguns to fight crime during a visit to the south of France.
The Greens and the Communist Party have criticised Sarkozy’s decision to increase police firepower and said it was irresponsible to start an arms race with local gangsters.