France to boost security measures at churches during Christmas
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French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Thursday called for strengthening security at churches during Christmas because of the prevailing terror threat against the backdrop of the November 13 attacks in Paris. In a note sent to local authorities and police, Cazeneuve called on the heads of parishes to strengthen the protection measures next week.
A similar recommendation was sent to them after a foiled attack against at least one church in Paris last April.
According to police sources, Cazeneuve said in the note that similar to measures taken in department stores and museums, it will be necessary for church goers to open the coats. He cited the context of very strong threat to France after the jihadist attacks that killed 130 people dead and hundreds wounded, adding churches had symbolic force as potential targets.
On April 19 this year, a 24-year-old Algerian Sid Ahmed Ghlam 24, was arrested in Paris on suspicion of killing a woman who was found shot dead in the passenger seat of her car, and of planning an attack on a church in the Paris suburb of Villejuif.
Prosecutors found documents about Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State at his home.
The minister also called for churches to limit the number of entrances to churches and to "pay particular attention to abandoned packages or bags."
He also stressed "the need to report any unusual behavior to the police."
France has around 45000 Catholic churches as well as 4000 Protestant churches.