#World News

Threats spark security headaches ahead of Paris Olympics

By Andrew Harding

Under clear blue skies, extra French police have been making a show of force around Paris today, on foot patrol at railway stations and near stadiums, seeking to reassure the public amid new warnings that the Islamic State group might be planning to attack European football events.

The heightened security in the French capital marks a moment of growing concern across Europe, as governments seek to assess, and react to, threats made on a pro-IS media channel.

It also comes at complicated moment for France itself, as it prepares to host the Olympic Games in July following growing concerns that the Kremlin is deliberately trying to spread doubts and fears about the French government’s ability to keep its citizens safe.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said he had “considerably strengthened security” around Wednesday night’s Champion’s League quarter-final match at the Parc des Princes in southwest Paris.

The move follows an online threat to European sporting events that Mr Darmanin said had been “publicly expressed” by IS. The pro-IS media channel had reached out to supporters in France and elsewhere, who may feel emboldened after seeing the recent IS-claimed attack on a concert hall in Moscow.

But Mr Darmanin was keen to put the threat, and a raised national threat level, in context, stressing that the risk of an IS attack was “not new” and that “I don’t have – and I say this quite frankly – any specific information. We don’t know which location might be particularly affected, nor under what conditions”.

He also pointed out that his forces, with long experience of tackling Islamist extremism, had foiled two attacks since the start of the year and arrested five individuals in three different cases in the past fortnight.

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