France to mourn Paris terror attack victims

France on Friday will mourn the 130 people killed in the November 13 Paris attacks, with President Francois Hollande leading a solemn ceremony in honour of the victims.

France to mourn Paris terror attack victims
A makeshift vigil at the Belle Equipe restaurant where 19 died. Photo: The Local
Families of those killed in France's worst-ever terror attack, claimed by the Isis, will join some of the wounded at ceremonies at the Invalides, the gilded 17th-century complex in central Paris that houses a military hospital and museum and Napoleon's tomb.
The tribute will be “national and republican,” an official at the Elysee presidential palace said, referring to the French republic's creed of liberty, equality and fraternity.
“It will take place in sobriety and solemnity, reflected by the beauty of the surroundings.”
Hollande will break from a whirlwind diplomatic bid to build a broad military coalition to defeat IS.
The marathon has taken him from Paris to Washington to Moscow in just a few days.
He is expected to make a 20-minute address at the one-hour ceremony, which will be shown live on television.
In the run up to the commemoration, Hollande called on the French to hang out the Tricolour.
“Every French citizen can take part (in the tribute) by taking the opportunity to deck their home with a blue, white and red flag, the colours of France,” government spokesman Stephane Le Foll quoted Hollande as saying.
The government also called on people to take selfies featuring red, blue, and white, then to share them on social media with the hashtag #FiersdelaFrance (Proud of France).
But some victims' families have said they will snub the event, accusing the government of failing to tighten security after terror attacks in January, when jihadist gunmen killed 17 people in Paris, mainly at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine.
“Thanks Mr President, politicians, but we don't want your handshake or your tribute, and we hold you partly responsible for what has happened!” Emmanuelle Prevost, whose brother was one of the 90 killed at the Bataclan concert hall, wrote on Facebook.
As the nation mourns the victims, an international manhunt is still on for two key suspects — Salah Abdeslam, who played a key logistical role in the wave of terror, and Mohamed Abrini, seen with Abdeslam two days before the November 13 atrocities.
France has stepped up its air strikes on IS targets in Syria and Iraq, where the group controls large areas of territory, and wants to create a more coordinated, concerted international effort to destroy the hardline Islamists.
Diplomatic push 
On a visit to Moscow Thursday, Hollande and Russian leader Vladimir Putin agreed to coordinate strikes against the jihadists.
“The strikes against Daesh (IS) will be intensified and be the object of coordination,” Hollande said at a press conference after their meeting at the Kremlin.
The agreement to focus on IS targets was the most concrete progress from the final leg of Hollande's marathon push to weld together a broad alliance to crush IS after the Paris attacks.
But the French leader failed to gain any pledge from Putin over helping the US-led coalition which is targeting IS.
Hollande's diplomatic drive has secured some offers of support from France's allies but also run into coolness and complications.
The challenge has been made tougher by by a spat between Moscow and Turkey over a downed Russian warplane on the Syrian-Turkish border.
The French leader has the support of Britain, whose Prime Minister David Cameron set out his case on Thursday for air strikes against IS in Syria, telling British MPs that the country could not “sub-contract” its security to allies.
He has also been backed by Germany, which has offered Tornado reconnaissance jets, a naval frigate, satellite images and aerial refuelling to help in the fight against IS.
Germany is also promising to send 650 soldiers to Mali to provide some relief to French forces fighting jihadists there.
But Hollande received a vague response from Italy, and got what analysts are calling a cool reply from President Barack Obama when he flew to Washington on Tuesday.    


Paris and Rennes hit by false bomb alerts

Metro lines in Paris were suspended and a central square in Rennes was cleared on Tuesday as two false alarms showed that France remains on edge after the November 13th terror attacks.

Paris and Rennes hit by false bomb alerts
Photo: AFP

A false alarm about a bomb at the Place de la République in Paris saw the square cordoned off and Metro lines 3, 5, 8, 9, and 11 partially suspended. 

“There was an anonymous caller who said that a bomb would go off at 2pm. But even if it was a hoax, we have to take the threat seriously,” a police source told BFM TV.

A policeman told Libération newspaper that officers were investigating a suspicious package in the square. 

Meanwhile, in the city of Rennes in western France another false alarm took place after an anonymous caller said there was a bomb at the central town square, also called Place de la République.

Shortly after 2.30pm, both alarms were called off. The Interior Ministry said that “no suspicious object had been found”. 
Paris has been shaken up by the November 13 terror attacks, which saw 130 people killed, and the country remains in a state of emergency. While many if not most of the population is showing a brave face, Parisians are clearly still on edge. 
This tension was highlighted dramatically last Sunday night when another false alarm sent hundreds running in blind panic through the streets.