YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

France Orders Tight Security to Fight Terror

September 15, 1986|STANLEY MEISLER | Times Staff Writer

PARIS — Premier Jacques Chirac on Sunday announced a series of tough measures designed to seal off France from terrorist infiltration shortly after a bomb killed one policeman and seriously injured two others in an attack on a busy Champs Elysees restaurant in Paris.

The anti-terrorist measures, which were planned before Sunday's bombing, included the dispatch of French soldiers to the country's borders and other moves that will make it more difficult for foreign visitors, including those from the United States, to enter France.

The bomb, the fourth left in a crowded Paris site in the last ten days, could have caused great loss of life, for it was left--reportedly hidden by flowers--on a table in a restaurant that had attracted hundreds, many of them teen-agers, to a rock music party celebrating a new car model.

But a waitress in the restaurant, which is run by the Renault car company as part of its huge showroom on the Champs Elysees, spotted the bomb and told the restaurant manager.

He alerted three policemen who rushed the bomb away from the crowded restaurant to an underground parking lot, but the bomb exploded in their hands before they could abandon it and flee to safety.

The attempt was evidently the work of a group of terrorists who are demanding that the French release three Middle Eastern prisoners, including Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, a Lebanese who has been charged with complicity in the assassination of an American military attache and an Israeli diplomat.

In a communique issued in Beirut earlier in the day, the group had warned that it would intensify the bomb attacks in Paris if the prisoners were not released. Most analysts here believe that the terrorists would be satisfied if only Abdallah were released.

But Chirac, speaking in a radio interview, said "the terrorists should understand that no clemency will come from this government, either directly or indirectly, either officially or unofficially, either publicly or secretly. The more pressure the terrorists apply, the more firm we will be."

The radio interview had been scheduled days in advance, and Chirac, even before the Champs Elysees bombing, had come prepared to announce the new anti-terrorism measures, given final approval at a meeting of his top security officials earlier in the day.

Visa Requirement

Chirac said that France will now require all foreign visitors, except those living in the 11 other members of the European Communities and Switzerland, to obtain visas from a French consul before entering the country.

Although the government, which expelled a dozen Middle Easterners on Saturday, is obviously intent on controlling the entry of Middle Eastern nationals, the requirement will force Americans and most other foreigners to seek visas as well. Chirac said the requirement will be imposed for six months.

The premier, who said that the new measures have the approval of President Francois Mitterrand, said 1,000 soldiers will be assigned to help police the country's borders. On top of this, several hundred will be sent to airports that serve as ports of entry for foreigners.

Chirac said the government intends to help organize a security system where guards check the bags carried by people entering department stores, restaurants, theaters and other public places in Paris.

Chirac said that his government has also taken some secret anti-terrorist measures. Hinting that French secret agents would be involved, Chirac said, "I do not intend to reveal the details of what we intend to do."

But, in a public warning to those he called manipulators of the terrorists, Chirac said that some day a terrorist will be caught in the act and will talk. "We would then know who is behind these terrorists, and whoever they are, a foreign country or whoever, they would pay the highest price," the premier said.

Electricity Cut

Tension increased in the city when the screens of all television sets went blank at about the same time that the bomb exploded in the Champs Elysees garage. All electricity was cut in a neighborhood that includes the Eiffel Tower, which transmits for all television stations in Paris. The government electricity company said the problem was caused by a short circuit unrelated to the bombing. Electricity was restored in a little over an hour.

In the radio broadcast, Chirac also showed some anger over the continued attacks in southern Lebanon against French soldiers serving with U.N. forces there.

The French government has demanded for some time that the United Nations figure out some way to reorganize and strengthen its peacekeeping force there. The obvious implication is that the French will pull out if this does not happen.

Small Group of Terrorists

Although two different organizations have taken responsibility for the Paris bombings, which began earlier this year, stopped for several months, and then resumed at the beginning of September, most analysts here believe they are the work of an organization reportedly headed by Abdallah. According to the Paris newspaper Liberation, that organization, known as the Lebanese Revolutionary Army Factions, is made up of a small group of terrorists from a Christian village in northern Lebanon that has close links to Syria.

Since the beginning of the year, four people have died and more than 100 have been injured in the bombings. In the latest series, a bomb fizzled and failed to explode on a crowded subway train on Sept. 4, a bomb blasted the post office at the Paris City Hall and killed a woman clerk and injured 18 last Monday, and another bomb exploded and injured 42 people in a cafeteria in a shopping center.

Los Angeles Times Articles