Security has been beefed up at the Eiffel Tower on Friday ahead of Sunday's winner-take-all face-off presidential election in France especially following the stunt pulled off by Greenpeace activists when they scaled the Paris landmark and hung out a huge political banner.
The Paris police chief was forced to call an emergency meeting to decide the new security measures following the stunt of the environmental activists. The early morning ' escapade' involved activists using mountaineering helmets, ropes, and shackles.
Compounding security issues was the separate incident of an arrested " radicalized" former soldier near a military airbase near the town of Evreux northwest of the French capital. Judicial sources said the incident was related to a counter- terrorist inquiry. Sources said a shotgun was found near the undergrowth, in addition to a cartridge and a Koran in the car he had left at the edge of the airbase. He was arrested in the early morning when he returned to the spot.
Security chiefs, after attacks by Islamist militants, have already announced that extra police would be assigned to patrol key areas on voting day on Sunday as Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen face off for the battle for the presidency following an intense, heated, and at times angry campaign.
The past two-and-a-half years have seen more than 230 people killed in terrorist attacks in Paris and other parts of France. Just three days before a first round of voting on April 23, a policeman was fatally shot in central Paris by a gunman. The Islamic state or IS claimed responsibility for the attack.
A dozen Greenpeace activists were arrested for the stunt they pulled off climbing the north face of the vast metal- latticed iconic Eiffel Tower to hang a banner carrying the French national motto, "Liberte, Egalita, Fraternite" ( Liberty, Equality, Fraternity). Police prefect Michel Delpuech said that above and beyond the motives and what can be viewed as an attempt at a publicity stunt, the current climate exposes faults in the security arrangements at the Eiffel Tower. Eiffel Tower is visited by about 19,000 people per day.
Paris City Hall also said it would double the number of the assigned sniffer dog patrols, and improve video-monitoring around the area.