PARIS — A bomb exploded and killed one policeman and seriously injured two others in a terrorist attack on a busy Champs Elysees restaurant in Paris on Sunday, shortly before Premier Jacques Chirac announced the dispatch of French soldiers to the country's borders and a series of other anti-terrorism measures that will make it more difficult for foreign visitors to enter France.
The bomb, the fourth left in a crowded Paris site in the last 10 days, could have caused great loss of life. It was left, reportedly hidden by flowers, on a table in a restaurant that attracts hundreds of patrons. But a waitress spotted the hidden 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 reach 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 their bomb attacks in Paris if the prisoners were not 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."
New Anti-Terror Measures
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.
Chirac said that France will now require all foreign visitors, except those living in the 11 other nations of the European Communities and Switzerland, to obtain visas before entering the country.
Although the government, which expelled a dozen Middle Eastern foreigners from France 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.
Chirac, saying the new measures have the approval of President Francois Mitterrand, reported that 1,000 soldiers will be assigned to help police the country's borders. Also, several hundred will be sent to airports that serve as ports of entry for foreigners.
Chirac also said the government intends to help organize a security system where guards check the bags carried by all people entering department stores, restaurants, theaters and other public places.
Although two different organizations have taken responsibility for the Paris bombings--which began earlier this year, stopped for several months, then resumed at the beginning of September--most analysts here believe it is 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.