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UK warns of 'high threat' from terrorism' in France

Ben McPartland · 6 Oct 2014, 11:30

Published: 06 Oct 2014 11:30 GMT+02:00

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The UK government has updated its travel advisory for France on its Foreign and Commonwealth Office website to reflect the threat of an indiscriminate terrorist attack in the country.

In its summary of France Foreign Office officials say: "There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate."

“Due to ongoing threats to France by Islamist groups and recent French military intervention against Isis, the French government has warned the public to be extra vigilant and reinforced its own domestic and overseas security measures,” reads the Foreign Office website.

It also mentions previous attacks in France, attributed to Islamist extremists including Mohamed Merah’s shooting spree in Toulouse and Montauban in March 2012 and a knife attack on a soldier at La Defense business district near Paris.

The new warning from the UK comes after Isis extremists issued a call to followers last month to launch attacks against the “dirty and spiteful” French after Paris joined the coalition taking part in air strikes on Isis in northern Iraq.

In a chilling threat distributed via social media in several languages, Isis urged Muslims around the globe to kill French people, Americans and nationals of any country in the coalition targeting the Islamic extremists. 

“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then (do so),” Islamic State in Syria and Iraq said.

After the beheading of French tourist Hervé Gourdel in Algeria France then responded by stepping up security in public places and on public transport.

Extra patrols will take place at airports and train stations as well as at well-known tourist sites and shopping centres in the country.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the beheading calls for a “strong response abroad and at home to protect our citizens."

SEE ALSO: France is the 'terrorism capital of Europe'

Story continues below…

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth office in London told The Local on Monday that the updated travel alert was “not meant as any criticism” of France and a decision whether to visit the country “rests with individuals”.

“The warning is our best assessment of the situation and is in line with current statements from France about the risk,” said the spokesman. "We cooperate extremely closely with France."

“People visiting France should refer to our travel advice. The decision is always up to the individual,” he added.

The Foreign Office website adds that 17 million UK citizens visit France every year and “most of these visits are trouble free”.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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