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France to get new counter-terrorism centre

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image Macron's office announced the new task force a day after an attack outside Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris (AFP Photo/Martin BUREAU)

Paris (AFP) - President Emmanuel Macron will set up a national counter-terrorism centre to coordinate France's intelligence services, his office said Wednesday a day after an attack on a policeman in Paris.

The new task force, which will have around 20 staff answering directly to Macron, will be in charge of providing "strategic guidance to the intelligence services", the presidency said.

Its main task will be to "decompartmentalise" France's various spy agencies to ensure they coordinate efforts to prevent further attacks, officials said.

It will report back to weekly defence meetings chaired by Macron.

France, home to Europe's largest Muslim population, has been repeatedly targeted by jihadists over the past two years.

Most of the attackers have been either ordered or inspired by the Islamic State group which has made France a prime target over its role in the coalition taking the fight to the jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

The new task force, which Macron had promised during campaigning, will propose plans of action on the functioning of the DGSE external intelligence agency, its domestic counterpart, the DGSI, and smaller agencies within the security forces.

Between them the agencies employ around 11,000 people.

France is still under a state of emergency imposed after the November 2015 attacks in Paris in which 130 people were killed.

The measures had been set to expire next month but the government wants to extend them until November, citing the recent attacks in Britain as proof of the need to boost the powers of the police and security services.

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