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France's Security Forces Beefed Up for Sunday Election in Wake of Paris Shooting

© REUTERS / Christian Hartmann / Masked police stand on top of their vehicle on the Champs Elysees Avenue after a policeman was killed and two others were wounded in a shooting incident in Paris, France, April 20, 2017.
Masked police stand on top of their vehicle on the Champs Elysees Avenue after a policeman was killed and two others were wounded in a shooting incident in Paris, France, April 20, 2017. - Sputnik International
The French government said on Friday that the country's security forces are fully mobilized with 50,000 police officers and 7,000 army personnel being dispersed in order to ensure citizens' safety, ahead of the first round of the presidential election this weekend, and following on the heels of an attack on policemen in Paris.

Police seal off the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, France, after a fatal shooting in which a police officer was killed along with an attacker, Thursday, April 20, 2017. - Sputnik International
French PM Criticizes Fillon, Le Pen Security Stance in Wake of Paris Shooting
PARIS (Sputnik) — Late on Thursday, a gunman opened fire on French police officers on the Champs Elysees in Paris, killing one law enforcement member and injuring two others, as well as a German tourist who was passing by. Daesh, banned in Russia, reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

France's President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve held an emergency meeting of security officials earlier on Friday to discuss security measures on the day of the election.

Emerging from the meeting, Cazeneuve said citizens should not succumb to fear following the attack and announced a full mobilization of security forces to back up 50,000 policemen already deployed to ensure safety during the election.

"The government is fully mobilized. In the coming days more than 50,000 of police officers and the gendarmery will be in place to insure a safe and calm election. Nothing must be allowed to impede the fundamental democratic process of our country," Cazeneuve said.

In addition to 50,000 police officers, some 7,000 soldiers will be also on patrol Sunday, according to a previous government statement. They are a part of a special security unit which provides antiterrorism surveillance, launched in January 2015 after the attacks on the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and the kosher market in Paris.

Former French Minister of the Economy Emmanuel Macron who runs for French president presents his healthcare and social security program to the National Federation of French Mutual Insurance in Paris. - Sputnik International
Macron Urges French Voters Not to 'Give In to Fear' After Paris Shooting
According to local media reports, the mayor of Paris, as well as mayors of smaller French towns have announced they intend to hire private security guards to be stationed outside the polling stations.

The mayor of Nice also plans to place a security guard outside all 250 voting stations, French media reported on Friday. This decision was made when earlier this week police announced they had foiled a terror plot in Marseille, arresting two suspects who were planning an attack to undermine the election.

Paris has been in a state of emergency since the November 13, 2015 terror attacks, which claimed the lives of 130 people. The latest prolongation of the state of emergency is expected to last until July 15 of this year.

Thursday's assault on policemen in Paris, with less than three days remaining until polls open on Sunday, has brought national security and terrorism concerns to the forefront of voters' minds.

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