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Monday, 12 January 2015

France deploys police, soldiers: 15,000 security personnel protect ‘sensitive’ sites

France is deploying 15,000 police and security forces to bolster security around "sensitive" sites and Jewish schools in the country, in the wake of Islamist attacks that left 17 dead, authorities said Monday.

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that 10,000 soldiers would be called up from Tuesday to protect "sensitive sites in the whole country from tomorrow (Tuesday) evening," given the "scale of threats" to France.

The troop deployment would come on top of 5,000 police and security forces already mobilized Monday to protect some 717 schools and Jewish sites in the country.

The Jewish community has been particularly shaken by Friday's attack on the kosher supermarket in eastern Paris, which came just two days after two other gunmen -Said Kouachi and his brother Cherif Kouachi - stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly, slaughtering 12 people.

Le Drian unveiled the fresh measures after an emergency meeting called by President Francois Hollande as attention turned to preventing a repeat of France's bloodiest attacks in half a century.

"This is the first time that our troops have been mobilized to such an extent on our own soil," the minister said, adding that he would prefer not to list the sites which are deemed sensitive.

Ahead of the meeting, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said one of the attackers, Amedy Coulibaly, who gunned down a policewoman and four Jewish shoppers at a kosher supermarket, likely received help from others.

"I don't want to say more, but investigations are continuing into these attacks, this barbaric terrorist acts. We think there are in fact probably accomplices," Valls told French radio. "The hunt will go on."

Valls admitted there were "clear failings" after it emerged that the Kouachi brothers had been on a US terror watch list "for years."

Said was known to have travelled to Yemen in 2011, where he received weapons training from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, while Cherif was a known jihadist who was convicted in 2008 for involvement in a network sending fighters to Iraq.

France turns its attention Monday to plugging security holes blamed for failing to prevent the deadliest terrorist attack on the country in half a century, after millions united in historic rallies.

As it emerged that Cherif met Coulibaly in prison, Valls said France would move to isolate Islamist detainees from the rest of the prisoner population, so as to prevent jails from being used as a breeding ground for radicals. This measure "must become widespread" but "it must be done discerningly and intelligently," he said.

AFP - globaltimes.cn
12/1/15
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