The armed response teams deployed across France, Denmark, Germany and Belgium over the weekend, amid fears of a terrorist attack, have evoked memories of the dark days following 9/11.
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On Saturday, France implemented its first “covadlix”, or lockdown, in 20 years, with two schools on the island of Corsica temporarily closed as armed troops were deployed to schools, schools were guarded by police vehicles, municipal workers were told to wear combat gear and armed anti-terror units, police dogs and helicopters roamed above Paris and other cities.
German police deployed the “Levit” program in Germany’s state of Rhineland-Palatinate and in its capital, Bonn, on Saturday. Meanwhile, emergency services have ordered all staff and drivers from the national railway company Deutsche Bahn to remain at home in Germany and most foreign travellers warned to avoid central London.
Calls for such measures gained momentum in the wake of the deadly truck attack in Nice, in which 86 people were killed on 14 July, which is also thought to have been carried out by a French Islamist.
On the National Hypermarket in Nice, it was illegal to enter, according to Frenchman Cheikh Thiam. But customers who defied the law faced jail terms and possible deportation.
Daniel Grinsteiger, 34, from Germany, said he was offered €25 (£23) to buy an item from the Hypermarket he did not want at €10. “I can understand why people are scared but I haven’t been a target and I don’t really understand why the stores that sell meat and fish aren’t closed,” he said.
Cristophe Rejriga, a Lille resident said he thought it was appropriate to lock shops in his area. “We will be on our way to visit relatives in France next weekend. Everyone is very worried but unfortunately France can’t just shrug their shoulders and say ‘here we go again’ and let the free world think this is not a serious problem,” he said.
However, other shopkeepers were more cautious. “If the police are protecting my shop I will do exactly the same,” one man said.
According to reports, containers at a big distribution centre run by Amazon in Antwerp have been targeted by rebels, with at least two of the boxes damaged, in an attempt to force the company to increase the number of UK deliveries.
There have been protests outside the distribution centre in Antwerp and some of the items were kept inside the building to protect staff, according to company sources.
Mohamed Atlty, an employee at the Walmart in Paris’ 7th arrondissement, said Sunday he and other staff were doing their best to prepare for disturbances to the shopping centre.
“We are working on security with special locks in the stores and looking at tactics to prevent people from wearing hoods,” he said.
Also on Sunday, German authorities announced that Deutsche Bahn has put a hold on its commuter trains in response to the terror threat. While all Deutsche Bahn trains were running throughout Germany on Sunday, the company will stop the buses from being packed with travellers after 8pm.
In its statement, Deutsche Bahn said: “At present, the heightened level of threat perception has generated a heightened desire for people to leave the city at least part of the day. In order to provide more space for people to leave, after this time only trains without seats will stop.”
The company said the move would be temporary, and would be reviewed on Monday.
Police in Frankfurt said security at the state railway station would be stepped up. They warned passengers that they may face delays, calling on people to be considerate of fellow passengers.