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France

More than 100,000 police, soldiers on duty for French New Year

media Revellers gather near the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees Avenue in Paris, France, during New Year celebrations, early January 1, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

More than 100,000 police officers, gendarmes and soldiers will be on duty across France for New Year’s celebrations to prevent attacks like the recent attack in Berlin, and the Bastille Day massacre in Nice earlier this year.

New Year’s Eve is always a difficult night for police, but this year they will also have to deal with the threat from terrorists, a police spokesperson told the French news agency AFP.

Over the weekend, 36,000 gendarmes, 52, 600 police and 4000 riot police (CRS) will be deployed as well as 7000 civilian workers and 7000 soldiers. In all, there will be 91,000 police on duty on New Year’s eve countrywide.

Last year’s celebrations were muted following the November 13 attacks in Paris and Saint Denis that left 130 people dead.

However, this year police expect the celebrations to be more pronounced with a fireworks display scheduled for 23:30 on the Champs-Elysées with between 400,000 and 600,000 people expected to attend.

The area will also be secured by 1.7 km of barriers, five chicanes and police vehicles, while those attending the event can expect to be searched. The Christmas market on the Champs-Elysées will be closed at 18:00.

Elsewhere in France, concrete barriers will be put in place to protect public gatherings along with extra police and soldiers in some cities like Nice where 150 soldiers will be deployed along with elite police units.

In Strasbourg, there will be 350 police supported by 200 soldiers, and 200 police in Toulouse.

While police chiefs say there is no specific threat associated with any of the New Year festivities, France remains in a state of ‘high alert’ with police asking members of the public to report any suspicious activities.
 

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