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TERRORISM

Train security: France could ban passengers

Under draft plans aimed to beef up security on its train network after the recent foiled terror attack, France looks set to impose an outright travel ban on certain individuals.

Train security: France could ban passengers
Train security agents on French trains would have greater powers of detention under the proposed new rules. Photo: AFP

The proposals announced by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve would pave the way for random bag checks on the nation’s trains and see increased numbers of armed patrols on the railway network. Europe 1 radio reports.

The measures would also see much greater powers handed to those charged with policing French trains.

“Until now train safety security agents haven’t been able to carry out passengers searches even if a passenger agreed. All this needs to be clarified,” Socialist MP for Gironde Gilles Savary told Europe 1.

Savary, who has been working on details of a bill to fight against travel fraud, also said those agents would have greater powers of detention, and would be able to use force against passengers in a wider range of contexts.

“There will always be risks, of course, but I think we can minimize them by threatening those who threaten us with random controls,” the MP added.

Significantly, the new measures could also see the introduction of bans for individuals from all trains, along the lines of current stadium bans for football hooligans.

The new French proposals would also see the resisting of rain security agents be made a crime, a move which would see authorities able to take action against passengers thought to be dangerous.

The reforms could affect both SNCF rail traffic and commuter trains in Paris as well as the Metro.

The raft of possible changes comes in the wake of a meeting of European ministers on Saturday looking at train safety.

The ministers from Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland called for increased checks on passengers and baggage at major stations and for the European Commission to tighten gun laws.

That meeting was called after a foiled jihadist attack on a train from Amsterdam to Paris on August 21st.

French prosecutors have charged Ayoub El Khazzani, a 25-year-old Moroccan, with the “targeted and premeditated” attack after he stepped out of a toilet cubicle with an assault rifle, 270 rounds of ammunition and a Luger pistol strapped to his chest.

He was quickly overpowered by a group of French, British and American passengers, who have since been awarded France's top honour, the Legion d'Honneur.

The draft French laws are set to be presented to the government on September 15th.

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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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