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EURO 2016

TERRORISM

Euro 2016 in France ‘faces real terror threat’

The threat of a terror attack at next year's Euro 2016 football championships in France is now a reality in the light of the shootings in Paris earlier this month, organizers admitted on Tuesday.

The recent terror attacks in Paris have made "tangible" the threat to the Euro 2016 tournament, organising committee president Jacques Lambert admitted on Tuesday.

"The terrorist risk was present from the beginning," Lambert told AFP.

"When I wrote the host bid in 2009, the terrorist threat was part of the 12 risks identified as major at an event like this.

"What the events in January have changed is that a theoretical risk has become a tangible risk, palpable, since it was carried through.

"It doesn't probably change much for the security professionals regarding preparations of the event."

"But you see that for everyone, public opinion, media, teams, it adds a special intensity," he explained.

Meanwhile, concerning sponsorship for the event, Lambert said that Euro 2016 would have six main partners, even if just one — Francaise des Jeux, the operator of France's national lottery games — has committed to date.

"It hasn't been reviewed downwards. Six partners is the objective and I'm almost certain that we will achieve it. Maybe a little later than initially planned," he said.

"The economic situation is what it is. I'm not worried, but it's an issue," said Lambert, who had said they were in talks with two big businesses, reported to be banking group Credit Agricole and SNCF, France's national state-owned railway company.

"As long as nothing has been signed, I'm confirming nothing, but I'm denying nothing regarding the two names you just cited," he said.

The European championships take place in France from June 10 to July 10, 2016.

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TERRORISM

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks

US Vice President Kamala Harris and French Prime Minister Jean Castex laid wreaths at a Paris cafe and France's national football stadium Saturday six years since deadly terror attacks that left 130 people dead.

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks
US Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff lay flowers after ceremonies at Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, at which 130 people were killed during the 2015 Paris terror attacks. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/POOL/AFP

The attacks by three separate teams of Islamic State group jihadists on the night of November 13, 2015 were the worst in France since World War II.

Gunmen mowed down 129 people in front of cafes and at a concert hall in the capital, while a bus driver was killed after suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates of the stadium in its suburbs.

Harris, wrapping up a four-day trip to France, placed a bouquet of white flowers in front of a plaque honouring the victims outside a Paris cafe.

Castex attended a minute of silence at the Stade de France football stadium, along with Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, before laying wreaths at the sites of the other attacks inside Paris.

In front of the Bataclan concert hall, survivors and relatives of the victims listened to someone read out the names of each of the 90 people killed during a concert there six years ago.

Public commemorations of the tragedy were called off last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last year we weren’t allowed to come and we all found it really tough,” said Bruno Poncet, who made it out alive of the Bataclan.

But he said the start of a trial over the attacks in September meant that those attending the commemoration this year felt more united.

‘Overcome it all’

“We’ve really bonded thanks to the trial,” he said. “During previous commemorations, we’d spot each other from afar without really daring to speak to each other. We were really shy. But standing up in court has really changed everything.”

The marathon trial, the biggest in France’s modern legal history, is expected to last until May 2022.

Twenty defendants are facing sentences of up to life in prison, including the sole attacker who was not gunned down by police, Salah Abdeslam, a French-Moroccan national who was captured in Brussels. Six of the defendants are being tried in absentia.

Poncet said he felt it was crucial that he attend the hearings. “I can’t possibly not. It’s our lives that are being discussed in that room, and it’s important to come to support the others and to try to overcome it all.”

Survivors have taken to the witness stand to recount the horror of the attacks, but also to describe life afterwards.

Several said they had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, grappling with survivor’s guilt, or even feeling alienated from the rest of society.

Saturday’s commemorations are to wrap up with a minute of silence at the Stade de France in the evening before the kick-off for a game between France and Kazakhstan.

It was during a football match between France and Germany that three suicide bombers blew themselves up in 2015.

Then-French president Francois Hollande was one of the 80,000 people in the crowd, before he was discreetly whisked away to avoid triggering mass panic.

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