Paris attacks: State of emergency extended; govt can block Web, off-duty police can carry guns

French police officers will be allowed to carry their weapon off duty to protect civilians for the duration of France's state of emergency.
French police officers will be allowed to carry their weapon off duty to protect civilians for the duration of France's state of emergency.PHOTO: EPA

PARIS (Reuters) - French police officers will be allowed to carry their weapon while off duty to protect civilians as long as France maintains the state of emergency that was extended following the Paris shootings, police said on Thursday (Nov 19).

French lawmakers on Thursday also voted to allow the government to block websites and social media accounts promoting or inciting terrorist acts, under the state of emergency.

French police spokesman Jerome Bonnet told BFM TV that police officers who volunteer would be able to carry their handgun in order to "protect themselves and the population in public places".

Police authorities have sent a note allowing this to all units, France Inter radio said on Thursday.

"This will allow off-duty police offers to be an additional force outside their hours," police union official Jean-Marc Bailleul said on ITELE television.

He added that off-duty policemen carrying their gun would have to wear an arm band to identify them as such.

The French government declared the state of emergency after a wave of attacks killed 129 across the French capital last Friday. It was extended by three months on Thursday.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls praised the "wisdom" of lawmakers who agreed the measure after voting to extend a state of emergency to three months.