PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that France was stepping up its border controls after a series of terrorist attacks that have hit the country in recent weeks.
Macron said the number of police and soldiers in charge of border controls will double from 2,400 now to 4,800. They will focus on tackling illegal immigration and smuggling activities, he said, during a visit to a border post in Perthus, on the border with Spain.
“We see very clearly that terrorist actions can in fact be carried out by some people who use migratory flows to threaten our territory. We must therefore strengthen our controls for reasons of national security, ”Macron said.
Macron notably mentioned the Islamic extremist attack on the Notre-Dame basilica in Nice which left three people dead last week. The main suspect, Ibrahim Issaoui, is a 21-year-old Tunisian who transited through Italy in September on his way to France. Issaoui is now in a French hospital after being injured by police during his arrest.
In addition, Macron has said he will push for changes to make controls at the European Union’s external borders more effective.
“The attacks in France and Austria a few days ago in Vienna show us that the terrorist risk is everywhere, that (terrorist) networks are global … which is forcing Europe to step up its response,” he said. he declares. France will present its proposals at a European summit in December.
The country raised its security alert to the maximum level after the Nice attack on October 29.
It was the third attack since Charlie Hebdo reposted the Prophet of Islam’s cartoons in September as the trial opened for the 2015 bombings at the newspaper’s offices and a kosher supermarket. The gunmen in the attack claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group and to Al-Qaida, which recently called for new strikes against France.
Hervé Cazaux, director of the border police in the Perthus region, said police had arrested 11,200 people seeking to illegally cross the Franco-Spanish border so far this year, up from 5,500 last year.
This is partly explained by the lockdown of the spring pandemic in France, under which the borders were closed until June 20, and by an increase in the number of migrants this summer, many of whom are traveling via Spain from Algeria and Morocco, Cazaux said.