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Moscow Warned Paris Many Times of Dangers Posed by Terrorists From North Caucasus, Deputy FM Says

© REUTERS / ERIC GAILLARDSecurity forces guard the area after a reported knife attack at Notre Dame church in Nice, France
Security forces guard the area after a reported knife attack at Notre Dame church in Nice, France - Sputnik International
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Moscow has repeatedly warned Paris of the threat coming from terrorists from the North Caucasus, but France kept accepting them as "fighters for freedom" and even granting citizenship to some of them, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov said in an interview with Sputnik in light of the recent violent attacks.

"Returning to the radicalisation topic, I can tell you that we have repeatedly warned our French partners of the dangers posed by terrorists of North Caucasian origin, while they accepted them as 'fighters for freedom’”, Syromolotov said.\

According to the Russian diplomat, "many of these fake fighters for freedom have found shelter in France, and some of them have even become citizens of this country”.

The Russian diplomat pointed to the important role that anti-terrorism cooperation plays in the relations between Moscow and Paris.

Syromolotov also praised the effort of a Russian-French working group for the fight against new challenges and threats that he co-chairs and which resumed its activities just recently.

"We have managed to identify a number of specific areas for strengthening bilateral cooperation on countering terrorism, radicalisation, organised crime, and drug trafficking; we have also outlined further steps toward ensuring security on transport and during major sports events”, Syromolotov said.

France Under Attack

On Thursday morning, Nice witnessed a knifing rampage that led to at least three deaths. One woman is believed to have been beheaded in the basilica in the centre of the city.

The attack came less than two weeks after teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in a Parisian suburb after showing his pupils cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that had appeared in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015 during a class about freedom of speech.

Cartoon depictions of the prophet Muhammad are often considered blasphemous by Muslims. The publication of the cartoons led to a deadly shooting in Charlie Hebdo's office back in 2015, which left 12 people dead and 11 injured.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi visit the scene of a knife attack at Notre Dame Basilica in Nice, France, 29 October 2020. - Sputnik International
Macron on Nice Stabbing: France Has Been Under Terrorist Attack Again
Paty's murder has now been treated as a terrorist attack, as President Macron defended the teacher's right to display the images and called him a "quiet hero".

He also said that Islam was "in crisis" around the world and announced a plan to reform the religion as practised in France, a statement that has since earned him widespread condemnation throughout the Muslim world, including from Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who argued that the Macron needed to undergo "mental checks".

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