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France vows 20-minute armed response to terror attacks

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France vows 20-minute armed response to terror attacks
Photo: AFP
07:27 CEST+02:00
France has promised a 20-minute armed response to terror attacks anywhere in the country by ending the traditional rivalries between the paramilitary and traditional police SWAT teams.

France's interior minister on Tuesday urged the country's elite police forces to end their traditional rivalries following November's jihadist attacks on Paris that claimed 130 lives.

"The time is over for rivalry among forces, it's time for unity," Bernard Cazeneuve told members of the GIGN paramilitary police, an elite RAID unit of the national police and the BRI anti-gang brigade of the Paris police.

"In the face of enemies who are determined to attack us while causing the most damage possible, with no desire to negotiate and whose own deaths are part of their philosophy and strategy, we need effective forces... working together towards the same goals," Cazeneuve said.

Rivalry among the three forces has been known to complicate operations as well as investigations.

The traditional areas of operation -- GIGN elite unit of the gendarmes in rural areas, RAID unit of police in urban centres, plus the BRI in Paris -- will be waived during serious crises or major attacks, Cazeneuve said.

"In the event of mass killings, it's in the first minutes that the terrorists claim the greatest number of victims," Cazeneuve said. "So we must react as quickly as possible, as well as anticipating such an attack."

The measures will ensure a minimum 20-minute response to attacks on towns and cities anywhere in France, he said.

"In a crisis our citizens expect faultless collaboration at all times," Cazeneuve told a news conference. "It's no time for competition between forces, but rather for unity, pooling resources and cooperating in our common interest."

To achieve the 20-minute response time Cazeneuve announced that new branches of GIGN and RAID will be set up around the country and BRI's 100-strong staff will be doubled.

The reforms were to stand their first test later Tuesday with a joint exercise at the Montparnasse rail station in Paris.

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