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France outlines new measures to tackle terrorism

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has announced new measures aimed at tackling homegrown terrorism. Credit: Orban Thierry/ABACA/PA Images

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has announced sweeping new measures to counter homegrown terrorism.

The plans include giving security forces better weapons and protection, hiring more intelligence agent hiring spree and creating a better database of anyone suspected of extremist links.

The new security measures also include increased intelligence-gathering on jihadis and other radicals, in part by making it easier to tap phones. Mr Valls said internet providers and social networks "have a legal responsibility under French law" to comply with the new measures.

In all, France will spend 425 million euro or £325 million over the next three years for all the counter-terror efforts, he said.

At least 2,600 counter-terrorism officers will be hired, 1,100 of them specifically for intelligence services. The Prime Minister said anti-terror surveillance is needed for 3,000 people with ties to France - some at home, others abroad.

Hero of French Kosher deli attack awarded French citizenship

The Malian grocery worker hailed as a hero for saving hostages' lives when an Islamist militant attacked a kosher supermarket in Paris this month has become a French citizen.

Lassana Bathily. Credit: Reuters

"I am so happy to get dual nationality," said Lassana Bathily, who also received a medal for his actions. "Long live freedom, long live solidarity, long live France."

Lassana Bathily was joined by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Prime Minister Manuel Valls in a packed naturalisation ceremony. Credit: Reuters

The 24-year-old arrived in France from Mali in 2006 and received his working papers five years later, has been credited with saving many lives in the attack that killed four people at the kosher store in eastern Paris.

Bathily had tried for years to obtain French nationality and was turned down in 2011, today Cazeneuve and Valls hailed him as a model of decency and Republican values.

Five arrested in southern France after explosives found

The mayor of the southern French town of Beziers says five Chechens have been arrested in the region, including one with a cache of explosives.

Beziers mayor Robert Menard confirmed the arrests to the Associated Press, but declined to give more information, saying the investigation was ongoing.

The arrests were made throughout the region around the town of Beziers. Credit: Google Maps

Prosecutor Yvon Calvet told Midi Libre, the local paper, that it was not immediately clear whether a terror attack was planned.

France has been on high alert since three days of terror in the Paris region left 20 people dead, including the three gunmen.

Mr Menard said the man arrested in Bezier had been a resident "for some time".


Welby responds to Pope comments on mocking religion

The Archbishop of Canterbury has appeared to distance himself from the Pope's suggestion that people who mock religion should "expect a punch".

Speaking to ITV News, Most Rev Justin Welby said that he witnessed some "viciously" attacking the Church - including French magazine Charlie Hebdo - but added: "We live in a society where I may be offended but I'm not going to respond aggressively."

"We have to be robust about the way in which we are criticised and there have to be very clear limits as to what is acceptable," he added.

"Things that stir up hatred, things that stir up the despising of other people are things that are intolerable."

On Friday, Pope Francis criticised the French satirical magazine for publishing an image of the Prophet Mohammed, saying: "You can't insult the faith of others."

Miliband calls for 'zero tolerance' to anti-Semitic attacks

A "zero tolerance" approach is needed to tackle fears within the UK's Jewish community over a rise in the number of anti-Semitic attacks, Labour leader Ed Miliband has said.

The MP, whose parents fled to Britain to escape the Nazi regime, said there was a "palpable sense of anxiety" among British Jews, and called for tough action against anyone guilty of abuse or of questioning Israel's right to exist.

Ed Miliband was quizzed during a public session in London Credit: PA

He was questioned on the issue at a public session in Mill Hill, London, which has a large Jewish community.

He rejected criticism of his attack on the Israeli government's actions in Gaza, and Labour's backing of a Palestinian state, saying such political stances were not anti-Semitic.

There is a palpable sense of anxiety in the community, that is deeply, deeply troubling.

The best answer to this is to stand up loud and clear against anti-Semitism in all its forms. That is what I do and that is what i will continue to do. It is very important that we speak out clearly.

The thing that we have got to get across to people is that scepticism about some of the actions of the government of Israel is of a totally different category either of questioning the right of the state of Israel to exist or of anti-Semitism.

– Ed Miliband

It comes after counter terrorism chiefs revealed there was "heightened concern" about risks to Jewish people after the recent terror attacks in Paris included an armed siege at a kosher supermarket.

Campaigners 'applaud' May's call to fight anti-semitism

Campaigners against anti-semitism have strongly welcomed Home Secretary Theresa May's pledge to redouble efforts to counter threats against the UK's Jewish community.

The rising tide of anti-semitism in Britain is a shocking wake up call. We have been working with the Government for zero-tolerance law enforcement against anti-Semitic hate crime and we applaud the Home Secretary's determination to ensure that the authorities deliver.

– Campaign Against Anti-Semitism chairman Gideon Falter
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