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France steps up security

New counter-terrorism measures will see increased security in shopping centres and on public transport

THE FRENCH government is to implement a series of security precautions in the face of heightened terrorist risk.

Last night the office of Prime Minister Manuel Valls said it could not confirm the claims made earlier in the day by Iraqi prime minister Haïdar Al-Abadi that Isis is planning attacks on the Paris metro.

The office did however announce that in addition to the nationwide security measures that are part of the ‘Vigipirate’ counter-terrorism plans, security patrols would be stepped up on public transport, in stations, in department stores and shopping centres.

There will also be restrictions on parking and driving near certain sensitive buildings and an increased surveillance of public places including tourist sites, airports, stations and places of worship.

The government warned that “no zone can now be considered totally safe.” Citizens are being warned to exercise extreme caution in countries along the Sahara, from Senegal to Sudan. This week it increased the number of “dangerous” countries from 31 to 40.

The new precautions follow the execution of French hostage Hervé Gourdel in Algeria by a group claiming links to Isis, and the continuation of French air strikes against Isis targets in Iraq and Syria.

Yesterday President Francois Hollande announced that flags would be put at half-mast this Friday, Saturday and Sunday as a mark of respect for Mr Gourdel.

Senior French Muslims have been denouncing the execution of Mr Gourdel, said newspaper Libération. The president of the French council of Muslim religion CFCM Dalil Boubakeur has called on fellow Muslims to meet at Paris’ central mosque to denounce “the barbaric and bloody horror of the terrorists.”

On Wednesday 800 people joined Mr Gourdel’s family to pay a silent tribute to him in the village of Saint Martin Vésubie, the Alpes-Maritimes, where he worked as a mountain guide. Yesterday, Libération reported that similar gatherings had taken place in villages including Villeurbanne, Vannes and Rezé Mr Gourdel’s family is asking the public to behave with “dignity and restraint”.

Photo: Prefecture de Police

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