• France's news in English
 

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.

"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
Scarlett Johansson loses war on French book
The decision to republish comes one year after Delacourt was ordered to pay the star €2,500 ($3400) for his depiction of her in the novel. Photo: AFP

Scarlett Johansson loses war on French book

47 minutes ago

A French novel based on American actress Scarlett Johansson which the star sought to ban has now been translated into English and will be published in the UK within weeks, British media has reported.

UN to meet in Paris over minorities hit by Isis

UN to meet in Paris over minorities hit by Isis

1 hour ago

A UN conference on minorities persecuted by the Islamic State group will be held on September 8th in Paris, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday.

French journos 'try to blackmail' Morocco king
King Mohammed VI. Photo: AFP

French journos 'try to blackmail' Morocco king

1 hour ago

Two French investigative journalists were arrested on Thursday in Paris on suspicion of trying to blackmail the king of Morocco, legal sources in both countries said.

Police evacuate France's oldest shanty town
Roma community members walk with their belongings after the forced evacuation of their camp on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Police evacuate France's oldest shanty town

18 hours ago

A 300-strong Roma population was evicted from a shanty town in the northern suburbs of Paris on Thursday, despite a strong call for the camp to remain.

French coach drivers to get forced breath tests
People waiting at the Gallieni international bus station and coach terminal in Bagnolet, east of Paris. Photo: Hugo Mathy/AFP

French coach drivers to get forced breath tests

18 hours ago

Coach drivers in France will be forced to have their blood-alcohol level tested via a breathalyzer before driving as part of a move to increase safety on the country’s growing coach industry.

France's Total sells North Sea gas assets
Tank trucks at French oil giant Total's La Mede refinery in Chateauneuf-les-Martigues. Photo: Bertrand Langlois/AFP

France's Total sells North Sea gas assets

20 hours ago

French oil giant Total announced on Thursday it had agreed to sell a North Sea gas terminal and two pipelines in a deal worth over $900 million in a move to help offset falling oil prices.

French police clear train after 'armed men joke'
The TGV train was evacuated in Nimes, southern France. File photo: AFP

French police clear train after 'armed men joke'

21 hours ago

In what might be the least funny "joke" of the year, a teenage girl sent her mother a text claiming there were two armed men aboard her train in southern France. Police weren't laughing.

Gunman at French camp shootout was drunk
Members of the gendarmes forensic unit set up a workspace on a road near a traveller camp. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Gunman at French camp shootout was drunk

1 day ago

UPDATED: Investigators have revealed that a drunken man was behind the fatal shooting of four people at a traveller camp in northern France on Tuesday.

Journo 'tests' French rail security with fake gun
A Securail railway security agent stands on the platform at the Zuid-Midi railway station in Brussels. Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga/AFP

Journo 'tests' French rail security with fake gun

23 hours ago

A Belgian journalist has managed to travel on a French train with a fake machine gun just days after a terror attack was foiled on a Paris-bound train.

11-year-old boy survives six-storey fall in Paris

11-year-old boy survives six-storey fall in Paris

1 day ago

Residents of a southern Paris apartment block have been left in shock after a young fell from the sixth floor of the building.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

IN PICS: Police evict 300 people from France's oldest shanty town
11-year-old boy miraculously survives six-storey fall in Paris
Features
Take a look at some of the wackiest bars you can find in Paris
National
Feminist stunt sees French road signs changed for the day
National
Two men jailed after 'Charlie Hebdo 2' scare
National
French minister calls for tougher train security after foiled attack
National
President Hollande condemns arson attack on mosque
TIMELINE: What exactly happened on the Paris-bound "terror train"?
Travel
Could coaches overtake trains when it comes to travelling in France?
Train gunman: Islamic extremist or homeless misfit?
Meet the five heroes who foiled the French train attack
National
France set for 'tourism record' of 85 million visitors in 2015
National
Paris students are helping police to warn Asian visitors about crime
Naked couple found dead beside French fortress
Europe's biggest science museum burns in Paris
Robber found half-naked and asleep in French beauty salon
National
Here are eight tips for blending in with the French while at the beach
Humans of Paris: We meet the man changing our perception of Parisians
National
France reveals new plans for Sunday and late-night shopping
Read about this revolutionary kidney op in a Toulouse hospital
National
Panic after four dogs 'poisoned' after walks in Paris park
France hit by huge summer spike in abandoned pets
National
France boils in second hottest summer ever
Technology
Meet Max - the first person in France to receive a 3D-printed hand
Politics
French minister admits to 'Obama engagement' tweeting mishap
Features
From giant bubbles to treehouses - here are the craziest hotels in France
National
How would you like to spend a night in the Palace of Versailles?
French manager paid to do nothing for 12 years
Features
We talk to Calais residents about their migrant crisis
National
Cow spared after fleeing from abattoir in France
FIVE reasons why everyone should visit Calais... yes Calais
Travel
France for adrenaline junkies: Ten crazy things to do
VIDEO: Slingshot elastic breaks on ride at French theme park
This plant might spell the end of the Asian hornet invasion
Who says the French don't like speaking English
National
It may be trickier to find a baguette in Paris this August
Killers of French student were 'inspired by Breaking Bad'
Ten must-see French gems you probably never thought of visiting
Is it time for France to force Britain to move border back across Channel?
Is romance in France just a "heterosexual concept"?
Can YOU pronounce these ten French town names?
Dog buried alive sparks French social media fury
New plan to get shy French chatting on trains
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se