France stays on the ball as Euro 2016 kickoff nears

French police officers and volunteers taking part in an anti-terrorism exercise at a fan zone for Euro 2016. France has mobilised 90,000 security personnel for the month-long tournament.
French police officers and volunteers taking part in an anti-terrorism exercise at a fan zone for Euro 2016. France has mobilised 90,000 security personnel for the month-long tournament.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Govt launching app to warn football fans of any 'major crisis' amid fears of terror attacks

PARIS • Warnings mounted yesterday over potential terrorist attacks, just two days before the start of Euro 2016, with France on high alert as it prepares to host two million foreign football fans.

The French government was set to launch a smartphone app which would warn visitors of any "major crisis", a day after Britain warned that fans could be targeted.

The free app, available in English and French, would alert users to any suspected attack or other disaster according to their location, the Interior Ministry said.

The British Foreign Office on Tuesday said there was a "high threat from terrorism" during the month-long championship.

Last week, the US State Department warned that "unaffiliated entertainment venues" broadcasting the event in France and across Europe were also potential targets.

Ahead of the opening match between the hosts and Romania tomorrow, France also faces the threat of disruption to rail travel due to strikes that have paralysed parts of the network for a week.

The arrest of a Frenchman with an arsenal of weapons in Ukraine on Monday has heightened security fears. But France has made no official comment on the arrest, and anti-terrorist prosecutors have not been assigned to the case, suggesting that the authorities do not believe there is any imminent threat to Euro 2016.

The country has mobilised 90,000 security personnel to be on duty during Euro 2016, including 13,000 private guards.

Paris police chief Michel Cadot has said an extra 3,000 officers were being added to the 10,000 allotted to the capital.

France is still under a state of emergency after last November's suicide bombings and shootings in Paris that left 130 people dead and were claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group.

Experts said terrorists could aim for areas with minimal security protection during Euro 2016.

Ahead of the opening match between the hosts and Romania tomorrow, France also faces the threat of disruption to rail travel due to strikes that have paralysed parts of the network for a week.

Unions voted to continue the train strikes for an eighth day yesterday despite getting an improved offer on pay and conditions from state-run operator SNCF in all-night talks.

And the threat of a walkout by Air France pilots still hangs over the four-yearly gathering of Europe's top football nations. The pilots are set to ground planes for four days from Saturday over pay, just when football fans start heading for France.

President Francois Hollande has already warned the unions that they will receive little sympathy if they disrupt the tournament.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2016, with the headline 'France stays on the ball as Euro 2016 kickoff nears'. Print Edition | Subscribe