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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

France deploys extra army patrols in wake of attacks

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Tuesday said France had deployed 300 extra troops to patrol public areas over the Christmas period following a spate of attacks on police officers and shoppers.

In an announcement broadcast on live TV, Valls said he appreciated that the “deeply shocking” events had “understandably created great concerns”, but insisted that “each event must be treated separately”.


In a separate statement Tuesday, French President François Hollande urged citizens “not to panic” in the wake of the attacks.

The latest incident on Monday evening in the western city of Nantes saw a driver plough into a Christmas market, injuring 10 people before stabbing himself repeatedly. One person later died of injuries sustained during the attack, Hollande announced on Tuesday.

The incident came a day after a similar attack in Dijon, eastern France, which saw 13 pedestrians hurt.

And on Saturday, a man was shot dead after walking into a police station in the central town of Joue-les-Tours and attacking three officers with a knife, two of whom were seriously injured.

The man, a Burundian convert to Islam, reportedly shouted "Allahu Akbar" ("God is greatest") during the assault and had recently posted a flag of the Islamic State group on his Facebook page, prompting concerns that the attack was motivated by Islamic extremism.

Attackers had ‘psychological problems’

In his live broadcast, Valls said that there were “concerns of copycat incidents” and that “mentally deranged people may be influenced by propaganda messages”.

Valls announced that “up to 300” extra soldiers would be deployed on anti-terrorist “Vigipirate” patrols in busy areas, adding to the large number of troops, policemen and gendarmes already involved in active operations across France.

Earlier on Tuesday, Valls told Europe 1 radio that there was "no link" between the incidents and that both car rampages appeared to have been committed by people with psychological problems.

"The best response is to continue to live peacefully with the necessary vigilance of course," he added.

‘Fear over Christmas’

While the motives behind the incidents remain unclear, the violence has jarred nerves after repeated jihadist calls for "lone wolf" action in France over its fight against Islamic extremism.

"Fear over Christmas" titled local daily Le Parisien, while Le Figaro newspaper wrote a front-page editorial headlined "enemies within”.

In September, the radical Islamic State group that controls swathes of Iraq and Syria urged Muslims around the world to kill "in any manner" those from countries involved in a coalition fighting its jihadists, singling out the French.

Among instructions detailing how to kill civilians or military personnel was to "run him over with your car”.

But while the probe into Saturday's knife attack is veering towards extremism the two car rampages appear to have been committed by "unbalanced" people.

Both prosecutors in charge of probing the driving incidents insisted they were not "terrorist acts".

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

http://www.france24.com/en/20141223-attacks-rampaging-drivers-france-not-linked-pm-says/
23/12/14

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