European states assess threat levels after Paris attack

7th January 2015, Comments 0 comments

Governments around Europe huddled with their intelligence services Wednesday to evaluate security measures in the wake of the massacre at French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

The Paris attack by heavily armed masked men shouting "Allahu akbar" (God is Greatest) was the worst in France in decades and stoked fears of a new wave of Islamist attacks in Europe.

France raised its alert status for Paris to the highest level of "attack alert" shortly after the assault on Charlie Hebdo's headquarters that killed 12 people.

In Rome, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano called a meeting of senior intelligence and security advisors to "closely examine the terrorist threat in the wake of this very serious attack".

His Spanish counterpart Jorge Fernandez Diaz also planned to hold a meeting of senior counterterrorism officials to "analyse" the Paris attack.

In a sign of the jitters, the Madrid headquarters of the Prisa media group, which publishes El Pais newspaper, were briefly evacuated following a false alarm over a suspect package.

In London, Prime Minister David Cameron was briefed by intelligence services on the security situation but British authorities had no plans to upgrade the current alert level, which is already at "severe" -- indicating an attack is "highly likely".

Belgium decided to keep its alert level unchanged but security has been stepped up around certain unnamed sites, a government source said, adding that while there was "no reason to give into panic" the security services were fully "mobilised".

In Denmark, Jyllands-Posten, the daily which triggered global protests by publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005 that were later reprinted by Charlie Hebdo, said it had also implemented extra security measures.

Charlie Hebdo, which ardently defended freedom of expression, had long been in extremists' sights over its refusal to desist from publishing cartoons of the prophet.

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© 2015 AFP

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