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Terror threat

September 21, 2010

France is on alert for possible terrorism after intelligence suggested a female suicide bomber was planning an attack. The French interior minister says the country is facing a "real terrorist threat."

The Eiffel Tower
The new warning comes one week after a hoax bomb threat at the Eiffel TowerImage: picture-alliance / dpa

The security level in France has been heightened after receiving intelligence that there was a threat of a possible suicide attack.

The tip-off came from Algerian intelligence services and the potential bomber was thought to be a woman targeting either the Paris Metro transport system or a public gathering place.

"The terrorism threat is real, we have increased our vigilance," said Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux on Monday, without giving any specific details.

The heightened alert follows last Tuesday's ban on the wearing of the Islamic face veil in public and recent military action against suspected Islamic militants in North Africa.

Niger kidnappings

Authorities have warned an attack was increasingly possible since July when French soldiers were involved in a raid on an al Qaeda camp in Mali.

Airport security guard with gun
Security has been boosted in public after al Qaeda threatsImage: AP

The North African wing of al Qaeda, or al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have warned they will kill French citizens in revenge for fighters killed in the raid.

As a result of the French action, AQIM assassinated a 78-year-old French engineer who they took hostage in Niger.

In addition, five French nationals were kidnapped in Niger last week, reportedly by AQIM.

The head of France's counter intelligence service, Bernard Squarcini, has appeared in several interviews recently evoking the heightened alert, telling Le Monde on Sunday: "Carrying out an attack on our territory is among their objectives."

Authorities have visibly boosted police and military units patrolling landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, where 2,000 people were evacuated last week after a hoax bomb threat.

Author: Catherine Bolsover (Reuters/AP/dpa)
Editor: Andreas Illmer