French authorities are tightening security on the eve of the 60th D-Day anniversary.
The red phase of the permanent Vigipirate anti-terrorist plan has been introduced all over France, preceding the maximum scarlet phase. About 19,000 police officers, gendarmes and servicemen from every service branch are helping maintain law and order in north Normandy.
It should be mentioned in this connection that 90,000 soldiers landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944.
All the main forces and resources are located in north Normandy, which has a 100-km shoreline; military and police units control this area 25-35 km inland and seaward.
All traffic will be stopped on June 6 inside most sectors of this area. Special trains will travel between Paris and Caen town. Meanwhile only those buses and cars having special passes will be allowed inside.
Arromanches is to host the main international ceremony involving 16 national leaders, including President Jacques Chirac of France, President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation, President George Bush Jr. of the United States, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as well as German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Particularly tight security measures will thus be introduced in Arromanches. The 16 VIP-s will be shielded by 460 French security guards. Moreover, national security operatives will be staying around.
Specialized military units, which can repel nuclear, chemical and bacteriological attacks, as well as special-purpose police-and-gendarme units, have been deployed in Normandy.
The movement of ships, yachts and pleasure boats will be restricted considerably, with 2,700 men and 17 warships, a helicopter carrier, a destroyer and patrol boats included, controlling sea approaches.
All aircraft and helicopters will be forbidden to fly over the celebration area, with stationary and mobile radars, as well as an AWACS early-warning plane and remotely piloted aircraft, controlling local air space. Any suspicious-looking flying machine can be intercepted in one to five minutes, the military say. Mirage-2000 fighters and helicopter gunships will be used for that purpose.
Firefighters, rescue workers and medical teams have also been placed on red alert. They boast helicopters and specially equipped ambulances for promptly evacuating those in need of medical aid.
About 6,000 people, including at least 800 D-Day veterans, are expected to attend celebrations in Arromanches alone. Most of WWII veterans are aged over 80.