French defense minister says risk of terror attack grows on holiday

French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said Friday that there was a higher risk of terrorist attack during the holiday season and called for vigilance. "It's a particular moment because the threat can be yet more present," she told the Tactical Headquarters during a visit to the group's 249 members, among the hundreds of extra military called up to patrol during the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

The defense minister spent the day visiting the various military units involved in France's Vigipirate plan, an anti-terrorism alert system. "It is obvious that terrorists (seek) as much media impact as possible and, obviously to strike at a moment when the most people are gathered in the same place," she said.

Some 800 extra military personnel have been called up around France over the holidays, most of them in the Paris area to guard sites considered sensitive. No specific threat against France has been uncovered, authorities have said. However an analysis by the French agency in charge of anti-terror coordination wrote in a report this month that the risk is "particularly high."

The document, dated Dec. 16, was based on an analysis of internal and international politics, Le Monde said. The situation in Iraq is still a factor encouraging young Europeans to become radical and join terror networks, the report said, reports the AP. N.U.

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