France to deploy 5,000 police to protect Jewish schools
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France to deploy 5,000 police to protect Jewish schools

In address to parents of Jewish students, interior minister says soldiers will also be posted as reinforcements

French soldiers patrol in front of the Eiffel Tower on January 8, 2015 (AFP/BERTRAND GUAY)
French soldiers patrol in front of the Eiffel Tower on January 8, 2015 (AFP/BERTRAND GUAY)

France will deploy nearly 5,000 security forces and police to protect the 700 Jewish schools in the country, its interior minister said Monday, after last week’s attacks, one of which targeted a kosher supermarket.

Bernard Cazeneuve said soldiers would also be posted as reinforcements, as he addressed parents of a Jewish school to the south of Paris, near where an Islamist gunmen shot dead a policewoman on Thursday, one of 17 people killed in a three-day bloodbath.

Four Jewish men were killed Friday at the HyperCacher supermarket, prompting concerns of further attacks on Jewish targets. The gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, reportedly told a TV station that he had deliberately targeted Jews, and was said to have the addresses of several Jewish schools saved in his phone.

Coulibaly, who also killed a policewoman in southern Paris, probably received help from someone else, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Monday, pledging “the hunt will go on.”

On Sunday, following a meeting with President Francois Hollande, a leading figure in the Jewish community said the French army may protect Jewish sites.

“He told us that all the schools, all the synagogues will be protected, if necessary, on top of the police, by the army,” said Roger Cukierman, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France, of his meeting with Hollande.

France’s three days of terror started when the Kouachi brothers burst into the the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in central Paris and sprayed bullets into an editorial meeting, killing some of France’s best-known cartoonists.

They then killed a Muslim policeman as he lay helpless on the ground, and a day later Coulibaly shot dead a policewoman in a Paris suburb.

All three gunmen were shot dead Friday after twin hostage dramas at a printing firm and at the kosher supermarket.

Investigators have been trying to hunt down Coulibaly’s partner, 26-year-old Hayat Boumeddiene, but a security source in Turkey told AFP she arrived there on January 2, before the attacks, and has probably traveled on to Syria.

President Francois Hollande will chair a crisis meeting with cabinet ministers Monday to discuss security measures after the shootings raised questions about how the attackers slipped through the intelligence services’ net.

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