Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Security worries grip France after Nice attack

Questions over the ruling Socialists' capacity to ensure public security in France have resurfaced after a 31-year-old man killed 84 people celebrating French national day in Nice.

Critics asked how it was possible for a truck at high speed to career 2 km through the crowd before being stopped by police units, when a package of reinforced security measures were in place to secure events during holidays and a high-level terror alert had already been issued.

Defending their records on foiling attacks, the ruling Socialists rejected accusations of security failure in Nice.

"Zero risk does not exist. To say otherwise is lying to the French people," Prime Minister Manuel Valls said.

"I've always said the truth regarding terrorism: there is an ongoing war, there will be more attacks. It's difficult to say this, but more lives will be lost," he told the weekly Le Journal de Dimanche.

In the wake of Nice attack, French President Francois Hollande announced that the state of emergency, which was expected to expire on July 26, would be extended by three months.

  • "Everything will be done to protect the French with the respect of law, the Republic's value and democracy," he pledged at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Speaking after a security meeting on Monday, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve pledged to beef up security by sending another 3,000 police to patrol beaches and summer festival sites.

He also called on "all French patriots" to join the operational reserves to help weary police units and reinforce troops to better deal with terrorist operations.

"France had never before faced a terrorist threat of such a high level," he warned.

Being the main target of terrorist cells, Paris bolstered security after last year's attacks and deployed 10,000 gendarmes and police units to protect public places and sensitive sites.

However, what the government plans to do and has already done to ensure public security is unlikely to appease fears and calm public anger.

"I know there's no zero risk... But I want to say, because it's the truth, that everything that should have been done over the last 18 months ... wasn't done," former French president Nicolas Sarkozy told TF1 television.

To Alain Juppe, the former French prime minister, the ruling camp should "do more and do better" to ensure the country's security.

"Today, that's life or death. It calls for drastic measures," Juppe added, proposing to reinforce intelligence services to detect strange behavior and ensure better supervision in jails which he labelled as "a breeding ground for jihadists."

An ifop survey for Le Figaro newspaper on Monday showed confidence in the Socialist leader to win the battle against terrorism tumbled to 33 percent, down 19 percentage points from the figure reported after Paris attacks which happened in November last year.


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