Wednesday, December 17, 2008
France will deploy hundreds of extra police at busy public places in its main cities after dynamite was planted in a Paris department store, Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said on Wednesday.
Police found the explosives at the busy Printemps department store on Tuesday after a warning letter from a previously unknown group calling itself the Afghan Revolutionary Front and demanding the withdrawal of French troops from Afghanistan.
Alliot-Marie said around 700 extra men would be deployed at department stores and other busy sites during the Christmas shopping period.
“Over the past 10 days we already had an extra 1,500 men and we are adding five mobile police squadrons, of which two will be in Paris,” she said after meeting the heads of France’s security services, transport bodies and department stores.
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“There will also be military personnel and we will reach a total of 2,200 men,” she said, adding that France’s security alert level would remain at “red,” its second-highest point after “scarlet.”
A senior police official said about 500 of the extra forces would be from the police, with the remainder provided by the military.
As part of reinforced security in Paris since a wave of Islamist bombings in the 1990s, soldiers in uniform have regularly patrolled public places such as train stations.
Defence Minister Herve Morin said earlier on Wednesday that despite the reference to Afghanistan in the tip-off letter, Islamists were not the main suspects in the investigation.
This article was posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 12:30 pm