July 13, 2018 / 1:28 PM / 4 months ago

Mass French police deployment as Bastille Day meets World Cup

FILE PHOTO: A French Military Helicopter flies next to the Eiffel Tower prior to the start of the traditional Bastille day military parade on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, France, July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - France will close the Eiffel Tower and mobilize 110,000 security staff as the weekend World Cup soccer final and Bastille Day festivities are expected to send hundreds of thousands of people into the streets, from Paris to the smallest of villages.

The mass deployment of riot police, soldiers and medical emergency staff was ordered as France remains on high alert for terrorist attacks, compounding the crowd control challenges caused by the coincidence of two major national events.

The World Cup soccer final between France and Croatia, while taking place in Russia, is expected to bring out masses of revelers — or people drowning their sorrows — on Sunday.

Crowds will already have thronged the streets on Saturday for the annual Paris military parade marking July 14.

And in a warm-up for Bastille Day, which celebrates the French Revolution, Friday-night parties are organized by the firefighters and paramedics of the “Sapeurs-Pompiers” across France.

“We’ve never had three days like we’re about to have,” said Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, who announced the beefed-up security presence on Friday.

More than 250 people have been killed in France in terror attacks in recent years, mostly by militants claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group, often during festive periods.

The November 2015 attacks in which 190 people were killed began during a major soccer match at the Stade de France on the edge of the capital. Another 86 people died months later when a heavy truck was deliberately driven into partying crowds in the Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016.

Reporting By Brian Love; Editing by Laurence Frost and Catherine Evans

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