France fears church attack over Christmas
France is to ramp up security at churches over fears they might be targeted by “battle-hardened” terrorists over the Christmas period.
With France still very much on edge after the November 13th terror attacks in Paris, authorities are concerned terrorists could now strike a blow at the country’s churches over the festive period.
Attacks on Christmas masses would have “huge symbol value” for terrorists, France’s interior ministry warned police chiefs in a memo on the issue, Europe 1 radio reports.
In the three-page note, interior minister Cazeneuve said police patrols would be stepped up over the period.
But he also advised police forces to get in contact with church authorities and tell them to look out for unusual behaviour including the presence of suspicious cars parked near churches.
Parishes have also been advised to make churchgoers open their coats and jackets before they enter churches especially for midnight masses on December 24th and on December 25th.
Some 500 such services are set to take place in Paris alone.
“It’s obviously mainly to reassure people, but the government can’t afford not to step up security, because if something happened they would heavily criticized,” French terrorism expert François Bernard Huyge told The Local on Friday.