French President Emmanuel Macron presided Monday over commemoration ceremonies throughout the French capital to mark the two-year anniversary of the Paris attacks.
Macron, along with his wife Brigitte, former president François Hollande and various ministers, visited the six sites throughout Paris where attackers affiliated with the Islamic State armed group (IS) killed 130 and injured hundreds more on 13 November 2015.
Macron’s first stop was the Stade de France in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, the site of the first of a series of attacks that shook the capital two years ago. After observing a minute of silence, Macron placed a wreath on the plaque commemorating Manuel Dias, the one victim of the Stade de France explosions. Three suicide bombers blew themselves up there after failing to enter the France-Germany football match, where former president Hollande was in attendance.
Macron then visited the cafés and restaurants gunned down by the attackers. At each restaurant, the names of the victims killed there were read aloud, and a moment of silence was observed.
The remembrance ceremonies ended at the Bataclan concert hall, the site of the gunmen’s final and deadliest attack. Three men burst into the venue during a rock concert. They shot at the crowd indiscriminately before detonating their suicide vests, leaving 90 dead.
France has 'stayed strong'
Reflecting on the deadly attacks, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told French radio on Monday that “France is still France” despite the attackers’ attempts to disrupt its way of life.
“We can look at our country and say that it has stayed strong, and that it has responded in appropriate legal and military manners,” Philippe said.
French people have carried on, he added, “with a resolute attachment to a certain way of life that can never be taken away.”
Threat level remains high
France is still a critical target for terror attacks, according to Laurent Nunez, the general director of French intelligence services. In an interview published Monday by the French daily Le Figaro, Nunez said the threat of attacks organised by jihadists in Iraq and Syria remains “very serious”.
There is also the potential threat posed by French fighters seeking to return to France after joining the ranks of the Islamic State armed group (IS) in Iraq and Syria. Paris Chief Prosecutor François Molins told French media last week that an estimated 690 French citizens are currently in Iraq or Syria, including some 295 women and 400 minors under the age of 15.
Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet told French radio Monday that eight minors between the ages of 16 and 18 who had fought for IS are currently being detailed in France.
“All minors follow a strict legal process. They all appear before a judge, even the youngest,” she said.
The terror attacks that devastated Paris on 13 November 2015 were the deadliest in modern French history.