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France steps up security after blood-soaked week

France steps up security after blood-soaked week
“We have decided ... to mobilise 10,000 men to protect sensitive sites in the whole country from tomorrow (Tuesday) evening,” defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said after an emergency security meeting.

“This is the first time our troops have been mobilised to such an extent on our own soil,” he added. Ahead of the meeting, PM Manuel Valls said one of the attackers, Amedy Coulibaly, who gunned down a policewoman and four Jewish shoppers at a kosher supermarket, likely received help from others. “I don’t want to say more, but investigations are continuing into these attacks, this barbaric terrorist acts. We think there are in fact probably accomplices. The hunt will go on,” Valls told French radio.

The alert level in the shell-shocked country remained at its highest possible, as the interior minister announced the deployment of nearly 5,000 police to guard Jewish schools and places of worship.

Bernard Cazeneuve said he was putting in place a “powerful and durable” system of protection for France’s Jewish community, the largest in Europe. The announcement of the fresh security measures came after more than 1.5 million people in Paris marched Sunday in unity and solidarity for those murdered, in the biggest rally in modern French history.

In an extraordinary show of unity, dozens of world leaders, including from Israel and the Palestinian Authority, linked arms at the front of the march that was spearheaded by victims’ families. All major newspapers splashed photos of the sea of humanity on the French capital’s streets, with banner headlines reading “A people rise up”, “Freedom on the march,” and “France stands up”. During an emotional and colourful rally, the crowd brandished banners saying “I’m French and I’m not scared”.

In tribute to the cartoonists slaughtered at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the crowd also held aloft signs saying: “Make fun, not war” and “Ink should flow, not blood”.

As Hollande proclaimed Paris the “capital of the world”, hundreds of thousands of people turned out in other French cities and marches were held in Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul and Madrid as well as in US and Canadian cities.

Next Charlie Hebdo to feature Mohammed cartoons

This week’s edition of Charlie Hebdo, put together by survivors of last week’s newsroom massacre in Paris by Islamist gunmen, will defiantly feature controversial cartoons, its lawyer said on Monday.

The special issue, to come out on Wednesday, will also be offered “in 16 languages” for readers around the world, one of its columnists, Patrick Pelloux, said. Charlie Hebdo’s lawyer, Richard Malka, told French radio the upcoming publication will “cede nothing” to extremists seeking to silence them. The two gunmen slaughtered 12 people in their attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices last Wednesday, including five of its top cartoonists and three other staff members.

The gunmen, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, claimed to belong to the jihadist group Al-Qaeda in Yemen. They were killed on Friday, as was an accomplice claiming affiliation to the rival Islamic State group, Amedy Coulibaly, in separate but coordinated French commando raids on sites in and near Paris where they had taken hostages. In all 17 people and the three Islamist attackers were killed in three days of violence.

Charlie Hebdo’s offices were firebombed without casualty in 2011 when it published cartoons lampooning Mohammed. Its staff has been receiving death threats from radical Muslims since 2006, when it reprinted controversial cartoons by a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten in the name of freedom of expression.


Agencies

Agencies

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