Armed guards to patrol French beaches this summer

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PARIS (Reuters) - Police officers armed with automatic pistols will patrol France’s beaches for the first time this summer, a national police spokesman said on Wednesday.

Around 100 police officers will carry the pistols, rather than the customary telescopic truncheons, when sent on beach safety duties for the peak summer season, the official said.

“This is not about a specific terrorist threat to France’s beaches but rather a decision to increase security generally given the very high threat level nationwide,” the official said.

Many French beaches are staffed during the July-August peak holiday period with lifeguards and a small team of safety and health staff headed up by an officer from the CRS riot police department.

France is on high security alert after Islamist militants killed 130 people in attacks in Paris last November.

Reporting by Gerard Bon; Writing by Brian Love; Editing by Janet Lawrence