France raises terror security, new threat reported

RTL radio, citing sources close to the Interior Ministry, reported Monday that French authorities received information about a possible suicide bombing.

September 20, 2010 18:43
2 minute read.
A WOMAN holds her passport in a Paris suburb last month.

Burqa 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

PARIS — France has stepped up its vigilance against terror threats, a top official announced Monday amid reports of various new threats, including one against the Paris transport network.

RTL radio, citing sources close to the Interior Ministry, reported Monday that French authorities received information early Thursday about a possible suicide bombing attack by a woman apparently on the Paris transport system. Authorities received the alert from French and North African sources, RTL reported.

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So credible was the information that Hortefeux canceled a two-day visit outside Paris, and security agents searched the transport system throughout the day but came up empty-handed, RTL said.

That same day, however, Hortefeux held an unusual news conference under the Eiffel Tower to announce that France faced an elevated risk of terrorism.

"An array of clues dating from the last few days and even the last few hours show the terrorist threat is at an elevated level," Hortefeux said at the time. "It is a real threat."

"The terrorist threat is real and today our vigilance, therefore, is reinforced," Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said during a visit to the Seine-et-Marne region east of Paris. He did not elaborate on the additional security measures taken.

In the last few days, there has been a false bomb alert at the Eiffel Tower and five French workers and two African colleagues have been kidnapped in Niger, part of the African turf of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

Last week, the French senate voted to ban burqa-style Islamic veils in France, a subject that has prompted warnings by Al-Qaida's Maghreb group.

An official with the RATP, Paris' public transit system, said there were "no specific threats" against the French capital's bus and rail network and added "we are not doing any more, or any less than usual" in terms of security. The official declined to provide his name in accordance with RATP policy. The national railway operator SNCF had no comment on the matter.

The Interior Ministry would not comment Monday on the radio report.

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