FRANCE-CRASH/VALLS STATEMENT UPDATE France steps up patrols after spate of lone-wolf attacksRecord ID: 383775
- Title: FRANCE-CRASH/VALLS STATEMENT UPDATE France steps up patrols after spate of lone-wolf attacks
- Date: 23rd December 2014
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (DECEMBER 23, 2014) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF FRENCH TROOPS PATROLLING AT CHRISTMAS MARKET ON CHAMPS ELYSEES
- Reuters ID: LVABLD2A1GDTTMGVE4HYNQ6QPQO0
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Duration: 00:00:07
- Topics: General
- Story Text: French security forces stepped up security at public places for the Christmas holiday season on Tuesday (December 23) after three separate acts of violence in three days left about 30 wounded and reignited fears of attacks by Islamist radicals.
Late on Monday, a man rammed a van into a crowded Christmas market in the western city of Nantes, wounding 10 shoppers including two seriously, before stabbing himself with a knife. He survived and is being questioned by police.
That came a day after a man shouting "Allahu Akbar" ("God is greatest") injured 13 in a similar attack in the eastern city of Dijon. On Saturday, an attacker, also yelling "Allahu Akbar", was shot after stabbing three police officers in central France.
"Since last week, the Vigipirate (anti-terror) security measure has been reinforced for the holiday season. Police and gendarmerie patrols will be sent in priority to the highly visited places, main shopping districts, city centres, stations, and transportation places. The number of patrols of the Vigipirate -- consisting of 780 soldiers -- will be increased during the holiday season. 200 to 300 extra soldiers will be deployed in the following hours," Prime Minister Manuel Valls said, describing the incidents as "copy-cat reactions".
France is already on high alert after calls earlier this year from militants to attack its citizens and interests in reprisal for French military strikes on Islamist strongholds in the Middle East and Africa.
"There is, as you know, a terrorist threat to France. We -- along with the Interior Minister -- have been saying it for a long time. It's without a doubt, the major challenge of our times," Valls said, calling for vigilance and unity.
"This series of incidents is shocking and legitimately gives rise to concern from our compatriots. We want to protect and reassure the French and say to them that all the services of the state are mobilised," he added.
Prosecutors have opened a terrorist investigation for the first attack, after searches unearthed what they called a written "religious testament" in which the suspect invoked the Arabic word for God, "Allah", to give him strength.
Authorities are not treating the other two other incidents as terrorism and have said those attackers both had mental health problems.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said this week France had made 118 arrests in its efforts to crack down on French nationals who leave to fight alongside jihadists in Iraq and Syria and return home as potential threats to security.
The far-right National Front has accused the Socialist government of trying to play down the Islamist threat and has stepped up its own calls for deportations of radical preachers and a tightening of border controls.
Separately, police in the Riviera city of Cannes said a man armed with two pump-action shotguns and a knife had been arrested at dawn near a local market. They said his motivations remained unclear pending further interrogation.
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