Hebdo fallout: France deploys troops to protect Jewish institutions
13 January 2015
France has deployed 10,000 troops at Jewish schools, synagogues and other sites in an unprecedented security boost as the nation remains on high alert after last week's murderous attacks in Paris and Versailles.
The extraordinary measures mark the first time France has used such a large military force in the country for civilian protection, in scenes reminiscent of the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States and later attacks in London and Madrid.
It also underscored the deep concerns about the possible risks of more terrorist strikes even as officials probe the roots of last week's attacks by suspected Islamist militants.
''It's the first time in the history of France'' that the army has been used in such a way, said Colonel Benoit Brulen, who arrived with three soldiers at a Jewish school and synagogue in the city's 11th arrondissement (administrative districts) - not far from the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdon, where the days of bloodshed began.
The decision to use military forces was made after French President Francois Hollande convened an emergency meeting amid burning questions over how Islamist militants known to the French authorities managed to carry out the worst terrorist attacks in France in decades.
A total of 17 victims and three perpetrators died over four days of bloodshed that included a dozen dead at the newspaper Charlie Hebdo, the slaying of a policewoman, and an armed hostage-taking at a kosher market.
The wave of violence stunned France but also brought stirring displays of unity and resolve that culminated with at least 1.5 million people gathered in Paris on Sunday (See: 'I am Charlie': world leaders join unprecedented Paris rally).
All three attackers died Friday in nearly simultaneous raids by security forces (Charlie Hebdo attackers killed along with second Paris shootout assailant).
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the deployment will be fully in place by Tuesday. Nearly half of the soldiers - about 4,700 - will be assigned to protect France's 717 Jewish schools, officials said.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said security forces were hunting for a ''probable'' accomplice to the attacks, but gave no further details.
Hayat Boumeddiene, a woman linked to the one of the perpetrators, apparently left France before the attacks. She arrived in Turkey on 2 January from Madrid and crossed into Syria from Turkey on Thursday, Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, told the state-run Anadolu Agency.
Valls told France's BFM television that France is at war against ''terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam''.
The major security buildup around Jewish sites also comes after some Israeli leaders urged European Jews, particularly those in France, to move to Israel in the face of growing anti-Semitism.
About 500,000 Jews live in France in one of the Europe's largest Jewish communities. At the same time, France's rising Muslim population is the biggest in Western Europe.
Although acts of direct violence against Jewish sites in France are rare, some Jews express a growing unease over signs such as anti-Semitic graffiti and perceived intolerance from ultra-nationalist groups.
The Jewish victims of the supermarket attack will be buried in Israel this week.