PARIS, January 11 (Sputnik) — Hundreds of thousands people, including world leaders, have started the Republican March in central Paris, commemorating those who died in a series of terror attacks that struck France this week.
Hours before the march, crowds of people have gathered at the Place de la Republique and Place de la Bastille, and occupied several streets in central Paris. The march unites people from different social and cultural backgrounds.
Delegations from around 50 countries have come to Paris to take part in the march, including top officials from Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Ukraine, and other countries. Russian delegation is headed by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
French President Francois Hollande is walking in the front row of the demonstration, together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and other international leaders.
I've just arrived at the Élysée to meet President Hollande. We'll March together for our values and those murdered at #CharlieHebdo.— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) 11 января 2015
The main column of demonstrators including has started walking from the Place de la Republique toward the Place de la Nation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leaded Mahmoud Abbas are expected to hold a joint speech against terrorism despite political tensions between the two countries.
Sunday’s gathering may become the biggest mass action in the recent history of France. In 1998, ago over 1.5 million gathered in central Paris to celebrate French national football team’s World Cup victory.
Hundreds of policemen and soldiers, including snipers on the roofs, are ensuring security during the event.
France has suffered a series of terrorist attacks involving alleged Islamic radicals, who killed a total of 17 people in the Paris area over the week.
Brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi killed 12 people, mostly journalists, in a Wednesday attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine's office. The weekly has been publishing cartoons mocking religions, including Islam.
Amedy Coulibaly, believed to have links with the Charlie Hebdo attackers, is suspected of killing a female police officer south of Paris on Thursday. He also killed four hostages on Friday in a Paris kosher food supermarket.
All three attackers were killed by the police on Friday. The law enforcement are currently hunting for possible accomplices of the gunmen.