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Europe on alert for New Year’s Eve terror as France deploys 90,000 cops amid ‘very high risk’ of attacks

Officials have increased tight security measures in landmarks, churches, and Christmas markets.

FEARS of terror attacks over New Year’s Eve celebrations have forced officials to ramp up security measures as Europe remains on “high alert.” 

A total of 6,000 will be in Paris, where French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said over 1.5 million people are expected to attend celebrations on the Champs-Elysees.

Speaking at a press conference Darmanin said: “I requested an extremely strong mobilisation of the police and gendarmerie services in a context of very high terrorist threat.”

He said that cops will be able to use drones for the first time as part of security work and that tens of thousands of firefighters and 5,000 soldiers would also be deployed.

In the Paris metropolitan area, two helicopters will also be deployed “above the neighbourhoods”.

New Year’s Eve celebrations in Paris will centre on the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, including DJ sets, fireworks and video projections on the Arc de Triomphe.

The need to tighten security ahead of the Olympics was highlighted when a 24-year-old tourist was stabbed to death in a terrorist attack in Paris by an ISIS supporter earlier this month.

Collin – identified by his first name only – was the first victim of Armand Rajabpour-Miyandoab, 26 who also injured a British man near the Eiffel Tower on December 2.

But France is not the only European country increasing security over the holiday period.

German authorities barred sightseeing visits to Cologne’s landmark cathedral on Christmas Eve and worshippers faced security checks amid growing fears of a potential attack.

Police said they were taking precautions even though the information they had was for an attack on New Year’s Eve.

Police spokesperson Wolfgang Baldes said: “Even if the reference was to New Year’s Eve, there are a lot of people in the area around the cathedral, today is Christmas Eve midnight Mass, it is one of the most visited cathedrals, the main train station is nearby.

“There are a lot of people, and that’s why we said that if there was an indication, we would do everything necessary to protect people.”

Worshippers were able to attend church services despite the ban after cops searched the site with sniffer dogs.

Auxiliary Bishop Rolf Steinhaeuser said it was “probably the most secure church service in all of Germany.”

In Austria, officials said they have increased security around Vienna’s churches and Christmas markets while Sweden has remained on high alert since this summer.

Despite the extra measures, the interior minister for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia Herbert Reul urged people not to avoid celebrations and to enjoy the holidays.

He said: “Caution is advised but we are not defenseless. Our agencies are using all available information to protect us as well as possible.”

“My appeal is, go to church, celebrate Christmas. Fear is the currency of terrorists. We should not make it more valuable.”

The terror threat level in the Netherlands was raised last week with security services warning terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda were using the conflict in the Middle East to encourage attacks in the West.

It comes as earlier this month a Hamas terror plot to slaughter innocent civilians in Jewish sites across Europe has been thwarted by police.

Seven suspected terrorists said to be “acting in Hamas’ name” were been arrested during raids in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Earlier in December the home affairs chief warned Europe is facing a “huge risk” of terrorist attacks over the Christmas period amid the bloody war in Gaza.

Ahead of a meeting of EU home affairs ministers in Brussels, Ylva Johansson said: “With the war between Israel and Hamas and the polarisation it causes in our society, with the upcoming holiday season, there is a huge risk of terrorist attacks in the European Union.”

Johansson announced the European Commission will provide an additional €30million (£26million) to bolster security in vulnerable areas such as places of worship.

Editorial staff
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