Saturday, December 24, 2016

In France, a Christmas under very high surveillance – Europe1

Some 91.000 police officers, gendarmes and military mobilized, places of worship and gatherings checked : less than a week after the attack on the jihadist Berlin, France was celebrating Christmas under tight security, the authorities are calling however on the population to celebrate it in the “serenity”. “The threat is severe, our response has never been stronger,” said Friday the minister of the Interior Bruno Le Roux.

A year-end tensions. While France is in the grip of a threat jihadist unprecedented since the attacks of January 2015, and a further 17 planned attacks were thwarted on the national ground in 2016, the security features have been “each time”, tailored, said Bruno Le Roux. They are all the more after the attack on a Christmas market in berlin on Monday, claimed by the islamic State, which has killed 12 people and wounded dozens of others, and for which the accused, Anis A., was killed by the Italian police in the night of Thursday to Friday in the suburbs of Milan.

armed police in the train. The “risk” of a terrorist attack on the day of the celebration by christians of the birth of Jesus – which would have a strong symbolic for the jihadists there, even if there are “no formal elements” on a specific threat, writes the director general of the national Police (DGPN), Jean-Marc Falcone, in an interview in the Sunday Newspaper published Saturday. In addition to the 91.000 members of the security forces deployed Saturday and Sunday on the territory, the agents of the SNCF armed are now present in the trains, announced on Friday the president of the SNCF Guillaume Pepy.

2.400 places of worship under surveillance. Around 2.400 places of worship will be monitored on Saturday night, a detailed Saturday, Bruno Le Roux, who seeks to “reassure” believers on their “security”. In Paris, a few hours before the midnight mass, in front of the cathedral of Notre-Dame, the esplanade was surrounded by metal barriers. Police in number searched the bags of people wanting to enter the building, ask open coats.

Excavations at the entrance of religious buildings. At the top of the butte Montmartre, at the entrance of the basilica of the Sacred Heart, another religious monument emblematic of Paris, a guard inspects bags with a small flashlight. In this place is very touristic, five vans of police stationed on the one side and the other five in the bottom of the building. A young couple from Argentina, on a trip to Paris for four days, take a picture of you in front of the basilica and the panorama. Elsa said to be “moderately reassured” by the presence of police, but she “does not fear”. In the cathedral of Strasbourg, the office will be subject also to the security measures strict security checks, searches of bag, access, and places are limited.

A capacity of response “almost immediate”. “For the masses of Christmas the most popular, identified in some large cities, we will have not only a police presence, but a capacity to counter them almost immediately,” says the DGPN. The effort received “gladly” by Bishop Dominique Lebrun, archbishop of Rouen, because it will calm down the “concern” of some of the faithful. However, it is “impossible to protect all the churches,” he noticed at the micro RTL, citing the example of the Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, in which a priest had been murdered at the end of July by two jihadists claiming to be from the AR.

“A device without precedent” in Lille. The boss of the national police also explained that “re-evaluations” safe have been made locally. Thus, in Lille, where 1.250 workforce are engaged, “a device that is unprecedented,” has been put in place, according to the prefect. Blocks of concrete of a ton were placed at strategic points in the city centre and on the outskirts of the huge Euralille shopping centre. The same blocks “anti-vehicles” are used in Marseille, in addition to barriers, studs metal and a heavy police and military presence, to protect the Christmas market, located on the iconic Old Port.

“Live freely”. “Fear ? Of course, that it’s scary. But with it,” admits Massimo Esposito, an Italian tourist. “It’s the same thing in England. It does not change us really,” said Key Saunders, a British cruise on the Mediterranean. The minister of the Interior encourages the French public to “be vigilant” and “serenity”. “You can go out, party, go out with friends, go to religious services. I invite everyone to live freely”.


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