French city cancels famed flea market over security concerns | News | DW | 05.08.2016
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French city cancels famed flea market over security concerns

The city of Lille, in northern France, cancelled its Grande Braderie de Lille scheduled for early September. The city's mayor said the nature of the flea market made it impossible to ensure people's safety.

A renowned annual flea market in northern France has been cancelled due to security fears.

The city of Lille has cancelled its famed Grande Braderie de Lille flea market, with Mayor Martine Aubry describing it as a "painful decision" but saying people's safety is the top priority.

"We have really tried our best, but there are risks we cannot reduce," Aubry told a news conference alongside Michel Lalande, the region's governing head.

Lalande said the "hyper-urban format [of the market] with its streets full of people," left them no alternative but to cancel the event for this year.

He added: "There comes a time, despite our passions and our convictions, when we have to say stop."

France under attack

The flea market is just the latest in a series of events to be cancelled in France this summer, following last month's Bastille Day truck massacre in the Mediterranean port city of Nice. That attack left 85 people dead during a celebratory fireworks display.

The European road cycling championships, due to be held in Nice from September 14 to 18, was also called off on Friday.

Nice Mayor Philippe Pradal told a news conference that the decision to cancel the event had been taken due to the level of policing available.

"Given that it was an event that would have required a large police presence, and that we have not received any guarantees about their deployment, the cycling championships that Nice was due to hold in France's name are cancelled," he said.

Many other events that are going ahead have nonetheless been downsized, with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian saying the series of jihadist attacks put the country in a "war situation."

"Everyone must understand that we are in this situation and that sometimes that entails constraints," he said.

Last week, FBI Director James Comey said he had little doubt jihadist groups such as the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) and al-Qaida would ultimately be defeated, but that for the foreseeable future the US and Europe remain at risk.

Security experts, such as J.M. Berger, a fellow at George Washington University, agreed, adding that the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.

"Projecting strength through terrorist attacks is a factor in the recent violence, but down the road, when [IS] supporters have nothing to lose, things are likely to get worse," he told the Reuters news agency.

More than 230 people have been killed in a series of attacks across France over the past 18 months. The attackers have claimed allegiance to jihadist extremist groups, usually the "Islamic State" but also al-Qaida on at least one occasion.

bik, jbh/cmk (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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