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State of emergency likely to be extended, says French PM

LONDON: French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Sunday that the country’s state of emergency, imposed after last year’s Paris attacks, will likely be extended as France gears up for presidential elections.

“It is difficult today to end the state of emergency,” Valls told BBC television as France marked exactly one year since the Nov 13, 2015 jihadist attacks that left 130 people dead.

France on Sunday marked the first anniversary of the Paris attacks with sombre ceremonies and painful memories for the relatives of the 130 people killed.

President Francois Hollande unveiled plaques at sites across the city that were attacked by the militant Islamic State group.

“Especially since we are going to begin a presidential campaign in a few weeks with meetings, with public gatherings. So we must also protect our democracy,” Valls added in the interview with the BBC’s HARDtalk programme. “Besides, this state of emergency device allows us to make arrests, administrative checks which are effective… So yes, we are probably going to live a few months more with this state of emergency.”

The state of emergency was introduced on the night of the Paris attacks and extended for six months in late July.

While stressing he remained “very cautious”, Valls said the risk of similar coordinated attacks appeared to have diminished.

“But we may face attacks of the kind that we saw in Nice,” he said, referring to the July attack in the Riviera resort in which a 31-year-old Tunisian mowed down 86 people in a truck. “That’s to say some individuals who are driven directly by the internet, by social networks, by the militant Islamic Sate group, without having to go to Syria or Iraq.” AFP