PARIS - Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen accused France's government on Thursday of surrendering poor suburbs to Islamic radicals and demanded more focus on the nation's security failings just weeks before a presidential election.
Le Pen, third in opinion polls, was speaking in the wake of the killing of three Jewish children, a rabbi and three soldiers in Toulouse. Their suspected killer, Mohamed Merah, a French citizen with Algerian origins, was killed in a hail of bullets on Thursday in a police siege.
"The government is scared," said Le Pen, who took the reins of France's anti-immigrant National Front party from her father Jean-Marie Le Pen last year.
"I've been saying this for 10 years. Entire districts are in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists and I say it again today the danger is underestimated," she told France Info radio.
"The reality dawning on the French people is that social and civil peace has been bought in a number of districts and that price is the development of (fundamentalist) networks," she said, estimating there were thousands of Islamic militants in France.