France asks for foreign help for Olympics security: officials

France has asked its foreign allies to send several thousand members of their security forces to help guard the Paris Olympics, officials said Thursday, underlining the strains caused by the sporting extravaganza which begins in July.

"Several foreign nations are going to reinforce us in certain critical areas, such as dog-handling capabilities where the needs are enormous," an official at the defence ministry told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The official did not say how many foreign soldiers would be on French soil, but Polish Defence Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz confirmed his country was joining "an international coalition established by France" for the Olympics.

An official in the French interior ministry said separately that in January Paris had asked 46 allies to send 2,185 police reinforcements.

Both officials played down the significance of the requests for foreign assistance.

"It's a classic move for host countries ahead of the organisation of major events," the French interior ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

For the Rugby World Cup in France last year, European allies sent 160 police officers to help with security, the official added, with some of them visible to fans as they patrolled the streets.

Securing the Paris Olympics is stretching France's domestic forces, however, and an attack last Friday on a concert hall in Moscow that killed more than 140 people, claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group, underlined the stakes.

"The terrorist threat is real, it's strong," French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal told reporters on Monday, adding that two plots by suspected Islamic extremists had already been thwarted this year.


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