• France's news in English

France ups security over 'real' Mali Islamist threats

AFP/The Local · 14 Jan 2013, 18:30

Published: 14 Jan 2013 18:30 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

On Monday one of the leaders of Mali's Islamist rebel groups, Abou Dardar, told AFP they would “strike at the heart of France” in revenge for President Francois Hollande's decision to send in troops to try to oust the militants, an act Dardar labelled as an “attack on Islam”.

Later the head of the (DPGN) intelligence services in Paris, Claude Baland told French media: “We can confirm the importance of the level of the threat, which is real."

France’s national security alert system known as the ‘Plan Vigipirate’ has been raised from red to ‘reinforced red’ following the military intervention in Mali and the subsequent terror threats.

In various statements issued on Monday the French government confirmed steps have already been taken to boost security at various transport hubs including at airports and train stations, as well as at several important public buildings.

“We will increase checks around entrances to public buildings, increase baggage controls as well as the screening of passengers at airports,” France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls told French daily Le Parisien.

Security will also be beefed up at certain places of worship and specific embassies, Valls added.

Transport operator RATP confirmed it had been asked to step up controls on the Paris Metro as well as on the overground RER network in and around the capital.

French public support intervention

Despite the threat to national security the French population appears to be behind President Francois Hollande’s decision to take on Mali’s Islamist rebels, who are in control of much of the country.

According to an opinion poll sixty-three percent of French back their country's attempt to try to oust the Islamists, with 37 percent against.

The French offensive kicked off on Friday to block the advance of Islamist forces towards the capital from bases in the north which they have controlled since last April.

Hollande’s decision to send in the military has also been largely backed by the French press , who said the president had been left with little choice.

"The French intervention in Mali was unavoidable," right-wing daily Le Figaro said in an editorial, noting that all sides of the French political spectrum had rallied around the decision.

"Abandoning Mali to the Islamists would have compromised all of West Africa and installed a haven for terrorism on the doors of Europe," it wrote.

Le Figaro said only France was in a position to intervene in Mali and that the decision was worth the increased threat of an extremist attack on French soil or abroad.

Story continues below…

'Intervention worth the increased risk'

"The worry about the risk of an attack on national soil and the security of our expatriate countrymen cannot override the defence of our higher interests," it wrote.

Left-wing daily Liberation also praised Hollande's decision, saying he was to be congratulated for stopping "the Taliban of the desert".

Left-wing daily Le Monde also struck a note of caution, saying that while France was acting with the support of the international community, there was a danger of it being dragged into a long and damaging conflict.

"We know how these military interventions begin. We never know how they are going to end. Or rather, we know that many of them end up badly," it wrote.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

Revealed: The ten most stolen cars in France
A Smart car in Paris. Photo: JR_Paris/Flickr

Thieves in France are getting a taste for luxury cars, it seems.

Analysis - France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'to sell their French chateau'
All photos: AFP

Want to live where Brangelina got married?

How Paris is rapidly becoming Europe's 'City of Innovation'
Photo: AFP

If you want to start a company then Paris is the place to do it, it seems.

'Jungle' clearance: Migrants begin to leave Calais camp
All photos: AFP

The "Jungle" clearance is underway.

France's 'Jungle' children arrive in UK
Authorities will start to clear the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp on Monday. Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP file picture

The first group of children from the French "Jungle" migrant camp with no connection to Britain have arrived in the country, the Home Office said Sunday, ahead of the camp's planned demolition.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
jobs available