French PM warns of chemical terror attacks

Manuel Valls warns lawmakers there are 'no limits' to terror threat

French PM warns of chemical terror attacks

World Bulletin / News Desk

France faces a risk from terrorists armed with chemical and biological weapons, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Thursday.

The premier issued the warning as lawmakers debated extending France’s state of emergency imposed after last week’s attacks in Paris for a further three months.

“The macabre imagination of these commanders has no limits - assault rifles, decapitation, suicide bombings, knife attacks,” he said.

“I say this with the utmost care - but we know there may be a risk of the possibility chemical and biological weapons.”

Valls called on lawmakers to approve extending emergency powers as the “answer of a strong France that does not bend and will never bow.”

Friday night’s attacks in the French capital saw 129 killed by at least eight attackers, seven of who died on the night. The eighth, Salah Abdeslam, is wanted and a ninth militant is also believed to be at large.

Police are also hunting Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud, suspected of coordinating the attacks.

Valls told the National Assembly that the attacks represented a “new war… led by an army of criminals.”

President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and closed France’s borders within hours of the attacks.

The emergency legislation stems from 1955 when it was imposed in Algeria, then a French colony seeking independence.

It allows far-reaching powers including restrictions on travel and gatherings as well as giving the interior minister the ability to place those considered a danger to “security and public order” under house arrest.

Under the law, premises can be searched without judicial authority.

An extension beyond 12 days must be ratified by both the National Assembly and the Senate.

In a separate development, Jean-Marc Falcone, director general of the national police, said off-duty officers would be allowed to carry firearms.

“It will be voluntary and police who choose to carry a weapon will have to wear an armband to distinguish themselves,” he told radio station RTL.

He said the measure came at the “strong request” of police officers rather than the government.

According to an interior ministry statement released late Wednesday, police have conducted 414 raids under emergency powers since Sunday night, leading to 60 arrests and 75 weapons seizures.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Kasım 2015, 12:43