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France to step up security checks on public transport

media French policemen take part in a security operation in a RER D suburban train. AFP PHOTO/Thomas Samson

The French government on Monday announced a series of measures to beef up security on public transport following a thwarted attack on a high-speed train between Amsterdam and Paris last August.

With AFP

In order to fight more effectively against "terrorist acts" and "serious attacks on public security", rail security guards could be permitted to search bags or conduct "strip searches", Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Transport secretary Alain Vidalies said in a statement on Monday.

More luggage checks and body searches

Luggage searches would only be undertaken with the passenger's consent, but in the event of a refusal, the passenger could be prevented from travelling.

Under the new legislation, French police- who before were not allowed to search passengers' luggage, unless they were suspected of a crime, will now be able to.

Rail security officials will also be given such powers.

A bill on the proposed measures is to be debated in the French parliament next month with the government hoping the new measures will be adopted by early next year.

The new measures have been drawn up following a foiled attack by a heavily-armed gunman on a Thalys train on 21 August. The attack was blocked by several passengers, among them two off-duty US servicemen, who prevented what officials said would otherwise have turned into a massacre.

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