French PM defends security forces after police officer's murder

French President Francois Hollande (front row, sixth from left) and Prime Minister Manuel Valls (fifth from left) led government ministers and police officers in paying tribute yesterday to a policeman and his partner killed by an extremist who pledg
French President Francois Hollande (front row, sixth from left) and Prime Minister Manuel Valls (fifth from left) led government ministers and police officers in paying tribute yesterday to a policeman and his partner killed by an extremist who pledged allegiance to ISIS. Mr Valls rejected criticism that security forces were negligent or lacked judgment in failing to prevent the attack.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • French Prime Minister Manuel Valls defended the security forces yesterday after the first deadly militant attack on the nation's soil since the Paris massacres last November.

President Francois Hollande joined a minute of silence at the interior ministry for the two victims of Monday's assault by a convicted extremist who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.

The minute of silence was also observed at police stations nationwide, and flags at the interior ministry were to remain at half-mast for three days.

Mr Valls rejected criticism that the authorities could have thwarted the assault, in which a knife-wielding attacker killed a police officer and his partner at their home.

"I will not let anyone say there was any negligence or lack of judgment" by the security forces, he told France Inter radio.

He noted that a lone attack was hard to prevent and repeated a warning that terrorism was an inevitable threat. "We will experience further attacks in the future because we are facing a terrorist organisation which is on the retreat in Syria and Iraq and which is projecting itself in our countries in various forms... in order to sow fear and division," Mr Valls said.

"More innocent people will lose their lives. It's very hard to say this... But unfortunately it is the truth," he added.

France, which is hosting the Euro 2016 football championships, is on maximum alert following the Nov 13 attacks in Paris by an ISIS cell that claimed 130 lives.

In Monday's assault, 25-year-old Larossi Abballa, previously convicted of terrorism, killed a police officer and his partner before streaming his claim for the murders live on Facebook.

He stabbed 42-year-old police commander Jean-Baptiste Salvaing outside his home in the Paris suburb of Magnanville.

Entering their home, he took Mr Salvaing's 36-year-old partner Jessica Schneider and the couple's three-year-old son hostage, before slitting her throat.

He was later killed in a police raid on the house, where officers found the little boy traumatised but unhurt.

Facebook later removed Abballa's video. "Terrorists and acts of terrorism have no place on Facebook. Whenever terrorist content is reported to us, we remove it as quickly as possible," it said, adding it was "working closely" with the French authorities on the case.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2016, with the headline 'French PM defends security forces after police officer's murder'. Print Edition | Subscribe