French emergency law likely to be extended

PM Manuel Valls says move is due to risks linked to next year's presidential election

PARIS • France's emergency law is likely to be extended beyond January because of risks linked to next year's presidential election, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in an interview with the BBC.

The measures, which give police greater powers to carry out searches and detain suspects, were enacted after the Nov 13 attacks last year by militants of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria that left 130 dead in and around Paris. They were extended for six months in July.

"Every week, we make arrests, we dismantle networks," Mr Valls said in the interview. "It will take time but we will win this war."

While stressing that he remained "very cautious", Mr Valls said that the risk of similar coordinated attacks on France appeared to have diminished. "But we may face attacks of the kind that we saw in Nice," he said, referring to the attack in July in the Riviera resort in which a 31-year-old Tunisian mowed down 86 people with a truck.

"That's to say some individuals who are driven directly by the Internet, by social networks, by the Islamic State group, without having to go to Syria or Iraq," Mr Valls added.

To mark the first anniversary of the Nov 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, people released balloons (above) in front of the city hall of Paris' 11th arrondissement yesterday while Sting (below) played a day earlier at the reopening of the Bataclan conce
To mark the first anniversary of the Nov 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, people released balloons (above) in front of the city hall of Paris' 11th arrondissement. PHOTO: AFP

NO SURRENDER

Every week, we make arrests, we dismantle networks... It will take time but we will win this war.

MR MANUEL VALLS, French Prime Minister, on the country's fight against terror

 

He said in the exclusive interview with BBC's Hardtalk that he has the photo of a friend's son who was killed in the attacks.

"I have his photo because I want to live with it and never forget these attacks."

Ceremonies were held around Paris yesterday to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the rampage.

President Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo unveiled plaques at sites across the city that were attacked, starting at the Stade de France. Mr Manuel Dias, 63, was killed by a suicide bomber outside the national stadium where France was playing Germany in a football match, in the first of the series of coordinated attacks last year.

The French President and Paris mayor also unveiled plaques outside bars and restaurants in the trendy neighbourhood where gunmen sprayed bullets at people enjoying a Friday evening out.

The final ceremony took place outside the Bataclan, the concert hall where 90 people were killed by three attackers during a rock gig in the culmination of the carnage.

The names of those killed at the concert were read out as hundreds of people, gathered under rainy skies, watched in silence.

Rock star Sting reopened the refurbished Bataclan with an emotionally charged show held amid tight security on Saturday.

To mark the first anniversary of the Nov 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, people released balloons (above) in front of the city hall of Paris' 11th arrondissement yesterday while Sting (below) played a day earlier at the reopening of the Bataclan conce
Sting played a day earlier at the reopening of the Bataclan concert hall where 90 people were killed last year. PHOTO: AFP

"We will not forget them," the British singer told the crowd in French after a minute's silence for the victims.

Many in the crowd wept during the first song Fragile. The Bataclan management said that they had prevented two members of the American group Eagles of Death Metal - who were on stage when the bloodshed started - from entering the Sting concert over controversial remarks by their lead singer Jesse Hughes.

"They came, I threw them out - there are things you can't forgive," said the venue's co-director Jules Frutos.

However, the band's manager denied that members of the group had tried to enter the concert hall at all.

Hughes, who caused outrage in France by suggesting that Muslim staff at the Bataclan might have cooperated with the attackers, was however in the crowd for Sunday's ceremony at the venue.

A 28-year-old man identified by AFP as Olivier fought back the tears as he attended the unveiling of the plaque in front of the Carillon bar and the Petit Cambodge restaurant, where 13 people were killed. He was hit in the arm by a bullet while his friend was killed by the gunmen, and yesterday, he accompanied his friend's mother to the ceremony.

"I had to be here to support her," he told AFP. "But I won't come to any more commemorations."

He said he believed that it was not enough to just remember the dead, and that "we must try to understand how this happened".

BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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Plaques unveiled to mark Paris attack sites http://str.sg/4gHH

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2016, with the headline 'French emergency law likely to be extended'. Print Edition | Subscribe