France is deploying 15,000 police and security forces to bolster security around “sensitive” sites and Jewish schools in the country, after attacks that left 17 dead, authorities say.
Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said 10,000 soldiers will be called up from Tuesday to protect “sensitive sites in the whole country from tomorrow (Tuesday) evening”, given the “scale of threats” on France.
The troop deployment would come on top of 5000 police and security forces already mobilised on Monday to protect 717 schools and Jewish sites in the country.
Le Drian unveiled the fresh measures after an emergency meeting called by President Francois Hollande as attention turned to preventing a repeat of France’s bloodiest attacks in half a century.
“This is the first time that our troops have been mobilised to such an extent on our own soil,” the defence minister said, adding that he would prefer not to list the sites which are deemed sensitive.
Authorities are still hunting for possible accomplices of the three gunmen who carried out the three-day killing spree that began with a massacre of 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly.
Amedy Coulibaly, who killed a policewoman in southern Paris then four Jewish shoppers in a hostage drama, probably received help from someone else, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said, pledging “the hunt will go on”.
The Jewish community has been particularly shaken by Friday’s attack on the kosher supermarket in eastern Paris, which came just two days after two other gunmen – Said Kouachi and his brother Cherif Kouachi – stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly, slaughtering 12 people.
As it emerged that Cherif Kouachi met Coulibaly in prison, Valls said France would move to isolate Islamist detainees from the rest of the prisoner population, so as to prevent jails from being used as a breeding ground for radicals.
This measure “must become widespread” but “it must be done discerningly and intelligently”, Valls said.
France turned its attention on Monday to plugging security holes blamed for failing to prevent the attacks, after millions united in historic rallies.
In the biggest show of solidarity, in Paris, more than a million people mourned the victims of three days of terror.
Investigators have been trying to hunt down Coulibaly’s partner, 26-year-old Hayat Boumeddiene, but Turkey’s foreign minister said on Monday that she crossed into Syria from Turkey on January 8, the day her husband shot a policewoman to death on the outskirts of Paris and a day after the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
Coulibaly’s mother and sisters condemned his actions, saying “we hope there will not be any confusion between these odious acts and the Muslim religion”.
The French press hailed Sunday’s rallies, the biggest in the country’s history in which nearly four million people poured into the streets, with some estimates putting the number in Paris alone at 1.6 million.
All major newspapers splashed photos of the sea of humanity on the French capital’s streets, with banner headlines reading “A people rise up”, “Freedom on the march,” and “France stands up”.
Hollande on Sunday led more than a million people on the march in Paris in tribute to the victims of the attacks as the crowd cried, “Not afraid”.
At the head of the vast and colourful procession in the capital, Hollande linked arms with world leaders including the Israeli prime minister and the Palestinian president, in a historic display of unity.
The vast crowd chanted “Charlie, Charlie”, in honour of the cartoonists and journalists killed at Charlie Hebdo.
The crowd brandished banners saying “I’m French and I’m not scared” and, in tribute to the murdered cartoonists, “Make fun, not war” and “Ink should flow, not blood”.
The victims’ mourning families played a prominent role in the march, alongside representatives from around 50 countries.