Monday , October 23 2017

French PM warns of new attacks – 15,000 people on police radar

Police officers patrol around the Eiffel tower in Paris on Sept 10, Three heavily radicalised women were arrested after car laden with gas cylinders was found abandoned near Notre Dame cathedral in Paris on Sept 4. (AFP)
Police officers patrol around the Eiffel tower in Paris on Sept 10, Three heavily radicalised women were arrested after car laden with gas cylinders was found abandoned near Notre Dame cathedral in Paris on Sept 4. (AFP)

PARIS, Sept 11, (Agencies): French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Sunday there would be new attacks in France but proposals by former president Nicolas Sarkozy to boost security was not the right way to deal with threats.

The French capital was put on high alert last week when French officials said they dismantled a “terrorist cell” that planned to attack a Paris railway station under the direction of Islamic State. “This week at least two attacks were foiled,” Manuel Valls said in an interview with Europe 1 radio and Itele television on Sunday.

Valls said there were 15,000 people on the radar of police and intelligent services who were in the process of being radicalised. “There will be new attacks, there will be innocent victims…this is also my role to tell this truth to the French people,” Valls said.

In an interview newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD), Sarkozy said France needed to get tough on militants by creating special courts and detention facilities to boost security. “He is wrong about trying to wring the neck of the rule of law,” Valls said. Sarkozy proposed to systematically place French citizens suspected of having militant links in special detention facilities.

Confinement
“And don’t tell me it would be Guantanamo,” Sarkozy said in the interview. “In France, any administrative confinement is subject to subsequent control by a judge.” Guantanamo, opened by former President George W. Bush, was used to hold prisoners rounded up overseas when the United States became embroiled in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

France needs to get tough on militants by creating special courts and detention facilities to boost security, Sarkozy said in a interview published in Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD). The French capital was once again put on high alert last Sunday after a car loaded with gas cylinders was found near Notre Dame cathedral in an incident that could have been an attack on a Paris railway station. Security is a key topic in the presidential elections in 2017, as more than 230 people have been killed in militant Islamist attacks on French soil since January 2015.

Sarkozy’s comments come after French President Francois Hollande, a Socialist, took a swipe at his opponents this week, saying their hardline reactions to a wave of militant attacks demonstrated an intent to destroy France’s social model. Sarkozy took an even tougher approach on Sunday by proposing to systematically place French citizens, suspected of having militant links, in special detention facilities.

“Every Frenchman suspected of being linked to terrorism, because he regularly consults a jihadist website, or his behaviour shows signs of radicalisation or because is in close contact with radicalised people, must by preventively placed in a detention centre,” Sarkozy said in the interview. French anti-terror judges charged a woman Saturday over a failed jihadist attack near Paris’s Notre Dame cathedral, where a car full of gas canisters was found last weekend.

The mother of three, named as 29-year-old Ornella G., is one of several women detained in the past week on suspicion of planning new attacks in France, a country on high alert after a string of jihadist assaults in the past 18 months. According to investigators, her fingerprints were found in the Peugeot car that was abandoned last Sunday a few hundred metres from Notre Dame in an area thronging with tourists. The car contained five gas cylinders, three bottles of diesel and a lit cigarette. Ornella G. was remanded in custody after being charged with association with a terrorist group and attempted murder by an organised group, prosecutors said.

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