• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Troops patrol Paris streets after terror threat

AFP · 15 Jan 2013, 14:56

Published: 15 Jan 2013 14:56 GMT+01:00

Leaders of the militant Islamist groups under attack in the West African state have warned that France has "opened the doors of hell" by unleashing its warplanes and have called on fellow extremists to hit back on French soil.

Valls said everything possible was being done to ensure that did not happen, while cautioning that the threat posed by foreign and homegrown extremists had existed long before French forces went into action in the former colony.

"In terms of evaluating the risk, we have to be prudent. But our interior and exterior intelligence services are being extremely vigilant.

"The threat is not new but it is very strong and we have to be fully mobilised to meet it."

France has not yet raised the level of its national anti-terrorist alert system to the "scarlet" level that was briefly applied last year when Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah went on a killing spree in and around the southern city of Toulouse.

Under the current "reinforced red" alert, France has stepped up security at all public buildings, railway stations and other transport facilities as well as at airports and nuclear power plants.

Special measures have also been put in place to deter potential attacks on the embassies of foreign countries that have backed France's action, with US, British and Israeli interests deemed to be the most likely targets. Merah's killing of a rabbi, three Jewish children and three French paratroopers and the dismantling in October of an Islamist "terrorist cell" have highlighted the extent to which France faces a homegrown threat.

Anti-terrorist judge Marc Trevidic said there had already been a trickle of French Islamists heading to Mali before France launched airstrikes on Friday.

Trevidic said there were currently four separate investigations into French-based militants who have travelled to meet or otherwise made contact with the Malian groups.

"There's always one Malian involved but often it is groups made up of a patchwork of nationalities: French converts to Islam, people from across North Africa, Nigerians, Senegalese, etc..." he added.

"You can be sure that we have them under very close surveillance - the trick is not to pounce on them prematurely before we know what they are up to."

Hamedi Diarra, a leader of the sizable Malian community in France, said he did not think his Islamist compatriots had the means to carry out attacks on French soil.

Story continues below…

"I think it is more likely any reprisals will be targeted at French expatriates in the region," he said.

One of the groups in Mali, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), emerged from the GIA, an Algerian-based group that carried out a wave of deadly bombings in Paris in the mid-1990s.

But terrorism expert Jean-Charles Brisard said it was not certain that AQIM or any of its allies had the capacity to mount attacks in Europe.

"It is difficult to get a sense of how real the threat is but there is nothing in the recent past to suggest that it is," Brisard said.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Hoax bomb found at Paris Metro station
Photo: AFP

Bomb squad called in to a Paris Metro station after the discovery of a bag with a walkie-talkie antenna and red wires sticking out.

Five key moments in Chris Froome' Tour de France win
The victorious Christopher Froome. Photo: AFP

Here are the key moments that earned Christopher Froome his third Tour de France victory.

Terror attack in Nice
Policewoman's Nice claims leave government in crisis
Photo: AFP

The pressure is mounting on the French government after a policewoman claimed she was pressured to change her report over security measures in Nice on the night of the July 14th attack.

15-hour tailbacks in UK as France heightens checks
The local Kent Police force said there was a 12-mile tailback, which it put down to a “vast volume of holiday traffic”. Photo: AFP

British officials were drafted in to help French border police on Sunday after 15-hour queues built up at the port of Dover due to heightened entry checks.

15 injured in Welsh bus accident in France
The bus ended on its side in a ditch. Two helicopters were dispatched to the site. Photo: AFP

UPDATED: Fifteen people were injured, two of them seriously, when a bus carrying teenagers from Wales rolled over on a motorway in eastern France on Saturday, the local gendarmerie said.

Libya armed groups urge fight against French troops
Dozens of protesters rallied Friday outside the GNA’s former headquarters in a Tripoli navy base. Photo: AFP

Armed groups including Islamists have urged Libyans to mobilise against French and other foreign troops deployed in the country, denouncing their presence as a “blatant aggression”.

EgyptAir flight broke up midair after fire: report
The Airbus A320 was en route from Paris to Cairo when it disappeared from radar over the Mediterranean. Photo: AFP

An EgyptAir flight that crashed into the Mediterranean in May likely broke up in midair after a fire erupted in or near the cockpit, the New York Times has reported.

IMF boss Lagarde to stand trial over $400 million payout
Lagarde will be the third successive IMF chief to face trial. Photo: AFP

IMF chief Christine Lagarde was ordered Friday to stand trial in France over a massive state payout to a colourful tycoon when she was French economy minister, dealing a setback to her stellar career.

Hollande defends minister under fire over Nice attack
The Nice assault was the third major attack on French soil in the past 18 months. Photo: AFP

French President Francois Hollande on Friday defended his government from accusations it relaxed its anti-terror defences after the Euro championships, and announced plans to arm the fight against the Islamic State group which claimed the Nice attack.

Why was Nice ordered to delete CCTV images of attack?
Photo: AFP

The fact that city authorities in Nice were asked to delete images of the truck attack has only given weight to those criticizing the government.

Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Features
Six outdoor bars in Paris you simply must visit
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
The open-air Villette cinema has been cancelled over security fears
Culture
Henri Rousseau exhibition proves huge hit in Paris
National
Frenchman caught trying to sell Nice massacre souvenirs online
Society
OPEN NOW: Here's why you should head to the Paris Plages
Culture
What's on in France: Still plenty to see and do in July
Lifestyle
Treasures of Versailles to go on display in Australia
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Nice attack: What we know so far
National
Nice attacker: Body-building, drug-taking, violent flirt
National
IN IMAGES: Drawings in tribute to Nice attack victims
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Promenade des Anglais: The iconic heart of the French Riviera
France faces more questions after latest deadly attack
National
Why is France the target of choice for jihadist attacks?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Nice truck attack: 'Bodies went flying like bowling pins'
Nice attack: Families of missing make pleas on Twitter
Politics
Boris Johnson cheered and booed at Bastille Day party
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Ten reasons not to leave Paris this summer
Ten ways other expats in France drive you mad
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
'Very Stupid' village in France honoured for its silly name
Travel
Ten crazy things to do in France if you dare
Society
Paris: an obstacle course for wheelchair users
Brits ignore Brexit fears to make dream move to France
2,765
jobs available