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France launches security app ahead of Euro 2016

The French Interior Ministry has launched a smartphone app that sends phone alerts about possible terrorist attacks. The app was unveiled two days before the kickoff of Euro 2016.

The "SAIP" application, which is free to download in both French and English on iOS and Android operating systems, is designed to send users a warning "in case of a suspected attack," the French Interior Ministry said.

The app uses geolocation data to alert users only about security concerns relating to their area. It flashes a warning on users' mobile phone screens if there is an attack close to their location or there are grounds for suspicion of an imminent strike or "exceptional event."

Although the application was launched for Euro 2016, it will reportedly be developed further after the tournament, as

France continues to beef up its security

.

Preparing for an attack

The app is designed to have alerts appear on the screen less than 15 minutes after the incident has been confirmed by authorities. It will also provide advice on how to stay safe, with information tailored to each particular situation, according to the French ministry. Notifications can also be forwarded, allowing "users to be ambassadors for security messages in the case of a major crisis," the Interior Ministry said.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve added he also hoped that the app would assist in preventing France's emergency services hotlines from becoming overwhelmed in case of an attack.

Amid growing security concerns over the Euro 2016 football tournament, Britain had cautioned fans traveling to France to attend the tournament that stadiums, fan zones and transport hubs were "potential targets for terrorist attacks," echoing

warnings from French intelligence agencies, Germany and the United States

. France has been under a state of emergency imposed after militant Islamists struck Paris on November 13, 2015.

Interpol confirmed that a team from its major events division would be sent to Paris to support the approximately 90,000 security personnel deployed to secure the event.

ss/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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