The French government has released a mobile app to alert the public in the even of a terrorist attack. The app was released ahead of the Euro 2016 football tournament, which began on 10 June.
According to a statement released by the French interior ministry, the app will alert geo-located users “in case of a suspected attack.” Users will be able to sign up to receive alerts in up to eight different “geographical zones” in addition to their present location. Alerts will offer a brief description of what has happened as well as advice on how to stay safe. They will not cause the phone to vibrate or emit any sound in order to ensure that anyone hiding at the site of an attack does not alert the attackers. Officials have disclosed that later versions of the app will also alert users to other types of emergencies beyond attacks, including floods and industrial accidents. The government has disclosed that the app was developed in the wake of the November 2015 attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people.
The release of the app comes just days after the British Foreign Office warned that stadiums, fan zones and transport hubs were possible targets for attack during the football tournament.
As protests continue across France over labour law changes, a hardline French union has announced that it is planning to disrupt public transport and emergency services around the upcoming Euro Cup football matches.
According to Patrice Clos, who runs Force Ouvrier’s transport division, “we have decided that each match day in the towns concerned the federation would call strikes,” adding, “it was decided that as this law touches on the economy of the workers, that we would hit the economy of the Euros…until it is withdrawn.” The sectors affected during the football tournament, which begins on 10 June and which will run for a month, will include heavy goods traffic, public transportation, ambulances and bin collectors. Unions have also called for a day of industrial action on 10 June if President Francois Hollande does not return to the negotiating table.
The latest threat comes as France’s civil aviation body has asked airlines to fuel up abroad despite riot police clearing all but one of the country’s fuel depot blockades.
The union revealed its plan in late May, at the end of a week when nationwide protests against labour law reforms brought parts of France to a standstill. Despite the ongoing protests, President Hollande has vowed to press on with the legislation, with both the government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) claiming that it is necessary in order to create jobs. Speaking at the G7 Summit in Japan in May, President Hollande stated that “I will keep going because I think these are good reforms,” adding, “our primary duty…is to do everything to maintain the supply of fuel to the public and to continue to provide essential public services.” Unions however say that “the ball is in the government’s court” and insist that the strikes could end as soon as the government backs down.
Protests have turned ugly over this past month. On 27 May, masked demonstrators in Paris threw missiles at police, who fired tear gas in return. As many as 12,000 petrol stations across the country were reported to be either closed or running low on fuel on the day of the clashes. Meanwhile tourists travelling by car to France have been warned to fill up their tanks
The laws being forced through parliament would make it easier for companies to hire and fire workers.
According to sources, officials and security services from the football tournament’s ten host cities will take part in the counter-terrorism exercise, which is due to take place on 16 March in the southern city of Nimes.
Fan zones are thought to be areas that are at most risk as thousands of supporters from France and the twenty-three other competing nations congregate in confined spaces.
Last year, France endured several terror attacks, including the November coordinated attacks in Paris, which resulted in the deaths of 130 people. One of the targets was the Stade de France, which is the venue for the 10 July final game. On 13 November, three suicide bombers detonated their devices outside the stadium as France played Germany, killing themselves and one other person. At least one of the bombers reportedly tried to enter the stadium but was turned away.