Massive security preparations are underway in Paris as dozens of world leaders are expected to join a huge march for the terrorist attack victims.
Hundreds of thousands of people and nearly 50 heads of state and government are due to march in Paris on Sunday in remembrance of the victims of last week’s terror attacks in France.
Other rallies are planned elsewhere in the country.
The security forces will be more than 2,000 strong for the march itself; another 3,000 plus will be deployed to protect sensitive sites in and around the French capital.
The main European leaders – among them Angela Merkel, David Cameron, Matteo Renzi and Mariano Rajoy – had already announced their presence, along with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and other senior government representatives such as the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas added their names to the list on Saturday.
Two alternative routes in Paris have been prepared for the marchers, each leaving the Place de la Republique. One will pass just a few hundred metres from Charlie Hebdo’s offices, the scene of the first terror attack.
They will converge on the Place de la Nation in eastern Paris – one metro stop away from the Porte de Vincennes, the site of Friday’s murderous attack and siege of a Jewish supermarket.
Police snipers will be stationed on rooftops along the routes, which will be thoroughly searched beforehand.
The operation is being overseen by the French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who has said the country’s highest security level will be maintained for the next few weeks.
Euronews correspondent in Paris Fabien Farge said:
“Here at the Interior Ministry everything is being put in place to make the marches safe, given the high turnout expected all over France – and also to protect the foreign dignitaries who are coming to express their solidarity with France.”
On Saturday hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in cities across France in tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks.